Caterpillar handed investors $6.7 billion in 2022, while demanding more concessions from workers in next contract

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Caterpillar equipment seen at a Ziegler CAT dealership. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]

On Tuesday, global construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced its fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 results. The earnings report showed significant revenue increases and strong year-over-year profitability, which the company used to reward its investors with $6.7 billion in payouts via share buybacks and dividends. Since 2018, Caterpillar has returned more than $23 billion to its investors, or about $12.6 million a day.

The bonanza for Caterpillar shareholders — dominated by big investment firms like Vanguard Group, State Street Global Advisors and BlackRock — comes as the company prepares to accept a new round of concessions from nearly 7,000 US workers in the United States United Auto Workers to call union, whose six-year contract with CAT expires on March 1st. For their part, workers are seeking significant improvements in wages, benefits, paid time off and working conditions, reversing years of rollbacks overseen by the UAW bureaucracy. On Friday, workers voted by a nearly unanimous 98.6 percent to authorize a strike.

“Our global team delivered one of the best years in our nearly 100-year history, including record full-year adjusted earnings per share,” said CEO Jim Umpleby in a statement accompanying the earnings release. Although the figure wasn’t included in the latest earnings report, Ummpleby undoubtedly received a handsome payout himself last year; Between 2019 and 2021, he earned more than $72.5 million in salaries and other compensation, according to the company’s financial records.

In response to the pay report, a Caterpillar worker in East Peoria sarcastically told the WSWS, “Looks like they could do with some good help.”

Caterpillar’s fourth-quarter revenue increased to $16.6 billion, up 20 percent from the same period last year, supported by continued price increases. Revenue increased 17 percent overall in 2022, reaching $59.4 billion. According to a report by a Bank of America research analyst cited by Reuters, the company’s stock is up 14 percent recently, its sharpest rise in a decade.

The company also reported strong year-over-year growth in operating profit, which rose 15 percent to $7.9 billion.

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