As $100 Billion Goal Crumbles, Caterpillar Shakes Up Its C-Suite

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As arch executive officer of Caterpillar Inc., Douglas Oberhelman once pushed a company, like one of a heading yellow-and-black bulldozers, to plow brazen into universe markets — no matter a obstacles.

Oberhelman saw a flourishing center category in China, India and Brazil demanded a improved peculiarity of life that enclosed new roads, hospitals and airports. Caterpillar poured roughly $20 billion into investigate and development, capital spending and deals over a integrate of years. In 2012, he announced an brazen goal: Boosting sales some-more than 50 percent to as most as $100 billion in 2015.

His investments incited out to be ill-timed. Emerging markets slowed, and Caterpillar’s income over a final 3 years fell to reduction than half his target. On Monday, a Peoria, Illinois-based company, a bellwether for U.S. manufacturing, pronounced Oberhelman was stepping down as CEO. His inheritor will have to negotiate both a indolent marketplace and some-more powerful unfamiliar competition.

Analysts pronounced Oberhelman had depressed chase to a whipsaw of rising economies: He had been disturbed about being incompetent to fill orders quick adequate during a bang and was afterwards forced to cut costs in a commodities-market bust.

“When he initial came on, his strange concentration was not to be held brief of capacity,” pronounced Stephen Volkmann, a New York-based researcher for Jefferies LLC. “We are now many years into a downtown.”

Under Oberhelman, Caterpillar bought Bucyrus International Inc. in 2011 for $8.6 billion, including debt. It was a company’s biggest understanding ever. The subsequent year, a association acquired Hong Kong-based ERA Mining Machinery Ltd. and a section Siwei. That squeeze led to a $580 million writedown.

Since then, Oberhelman reorganized Caterpillar’s mining and appetite segments, shutting down dozens of factories and expelling thousands of jobs. Profit margins increased, even as sales slipped.

‘180 Degrees’

“I give him a satisfactory volume of credit for being peaceful and means to spin his perspective 180 degrees,” Volkmann said.

Oberhelman, a son of a John Deere salesman, grew adult in a tiny city of Woodstock, Illinois, usually a few hours from Caterpillar’s headquarters. He assimilated Caterpillar’s financial dialect right out of college, after operative in Uruguay in a early 1980s and afterwards Japan before returning to Peoria in a mid-1990s. Now 63, he has worked for Caterpillar, a largest builder of construction and mining equipment, for 41 years.

Oberhelman has a high profile. In 2010, he became authority of a National Association of Manufacturers, a industry’s largest trade organization. Oberhelman’s 2015 remuneration was $17.9 million. He will retire with grant advantages value during slightest $25.5 million, and batch options valued during $6.44 million as of Friday’s close, according to information gathered by Bloomberg.


Jim Umpleby, who is now a organisation boss for appetite and transportation, will succeed Oberhelman as CEO. Umpleby, 58, is also a Caterpillar die-hard. He assimilated Caterpillar auxiliary Solar Turbines Inc. in San Diego in 1980 and worked in engineering, manufacturing, sales, selling and patron service. The positions took him from a U.S. to Singapore and Malaysia.

But distinct Oberhelman, his inheritor will not be chairman, suggesting an alien might have some-more of a purpose in decision-making. Oberhelman will sojourn as authority until Mar 31 when Dave Calhoun will assume a role. Calhoun, who is now on a board, is comparison handling executive and conduct of private equity portfolio operations of The Blackstone Group LP. Umpleby also will join a board.

Volkmann, who hasn’t oral with Caterpillar about because a positions will be split, pronounced an extended house purpose in investments, such as a ones done early in Oberhelman’s tenure, “may have been wise.”

Trailing Peers

Since Oberhelman became CEO in Jul 2010, Caterpillar shares have climbed 46 percent by Monday. That trails a 86 percent benefit of a Dow Jones Industrial Average, of that Caterpillar is a member, and competitors such as Komatsu Ltd., that rose 51 percent in that time. The stock, that has rallied 28 percent this year along with a liberation in commodity-producer shares, fell 0.4 percent to $87.29 Monday in New York.

Caterpillar faces copiousness of skeptics on Wall Street. In May, David Einhorn, who runs a sidestep account Greenlight Capital, pronounced he had gamble opposite a association and questioned either a batch had bottomed. Jim Chanos, who likely a fall of Enron in 2001, has prolonged been vicious of Caterpillar. Its ratio of brief seductiveness divided by daily volume stands during 7.74 after reaching 12.52 in August, a tip given 1994.

Formidable Rival

The new CEO will face a some-more challenging tellurian aspirant after Komatsu, a second-biggest mining and construction apparatus maker, concluded to buy Joy Global Inc. for $2.89 billion in Jul — closer to a bottom rather than a tip of a cycle. The Tokyo-based manufacturer cumulative a largest eccentric builder of underground-mining equipment, as good as a heft to improved contest with Caterpillar over Komatsu’s dump-truck and excavator businesses.

JPMorgan Chase Co. analysts Ann Duignan and Thomas Simonitsch had insincere Oberhelman would stay in a purpose until he reached 65, they pronounced in a note to clients. The proclamation comes a week before Caterpillar reports third-quarter earnings, when it mostly provides initial superintendence for income expansion for a arriving year.

“The timing of a change in care suggests acknowledgment that a opinion for 2017 might be for a fifth uninterrupted year of income decline,” Duignan and Simonitsch said.

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