DBRS Limited (DBRS Morningstar) confirmed the long-term ratings of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT or the Company) and its subsidiaries at "A" and the Commercial Paper rating at R-1 (low). All trends are Stable. The rating confirmations are based on DBRS Morningstar’s expectations that CAT will carry forward its solid operating momentum from 2022 with revenues and margins increasing primarily because of favourable price realization and higher sales volume. The Stable trends reflect DBRS Morningstar's expectation that operating results and credit metrics will remain strongly supportive of the current rating category in the near to medium term.
The ratings continue to be underpinned by CAT's robust business profile as the leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. The Company's strong technological capabilities, superior product quality, and world-class manufacturing operations also lend support to its leading market position and strong brand recognition. Additionally, the Company's captive finance subsidiary and large global network of independent dealers provide intensive geographic coverage and strong customer relationships. New services growth opportunities and long-term energy transition trends also reflect positively on the business risk profile. These factors are balanced by the Company's inherent exposure to deeply cyclical industries and volatile input prices.
Looking ahead, DBRS Morningstar believes CAT's earnings profile will continue to remain well situated for the current “A” rating. DBRS Morningstar forecasts Machinery, Energy & Transportation (ME&T) revenues to rise to more than $61 billion in 2023 from $56.6 billion in 2022, based on higher price realization and overall volume growth. DBRS Morningstar expects ME&T EBITDA margins (as defined by DBRS Morningstar) to remain above 15.0% in 2023 versus 15.7% in 2022, as input costs moderate and the Company continues to realize better pricing and volume growth, owing to strong order backlog and sustained end user demand across the three primary segments. As such, DBRS Morningstar believes ME&T EBITDA (as defined by DBRS Morningstar) should increase meaningfully above $9 billion in 2023 from $8.9 billion in 2022.
DBRS Morningstar expects CAT's financial profile to remain strong and add to the rating strength. ME&T cash flow from operations (as defined by DBRS Morningstar) should remain above $8 billion in 2023 as compared with $8.3 billion in 2022 (as calculated by DBRS Morningstar). ME&T capital expenditures are forecast to grow to above $1.5 billion in 2023 from $1.3 billion in 2022 as the Company continues to invest in services and geographic expansion and improving operating efficiencies, with a strategic focus on improving product mix. DBRS Morningstar expect dividends should increase to above $2.5 billion, in line with the historical payout trend. Consequently, ME&T free cash flow (after dividends but before changes in working capital) should be above $4 billion in 2023 versus $4.6 billion in 2022 (as calculated by DBRS Morningstar). As such, DBRS Morningstar expects key credit metrics to remain within the “A” rating profile (i.e., debt-to-EBITDA remaining below 1.2 times in 2023).
DBRS Morningstar expects CAT's ratings to remain stable in the short to medium term because of its strong credit profile, which includes projected financial risk metrics that are commensurate with the current ratings. Despite the Company’s continued exposure to inherently cyclical end sectors, a positive rating action could result if CAT demonstrates a material strengthening of the business risk profile which leads to lower volatility of operating and credit metrics through the cycle. Conversely, although unlikely, should CAT's business risk profile suffer materially, owing to a particularly sharp and sustained decline in demand from the Company’s key destination sectors, a negative rating action could result.
There were no Environmental/Social/Governance factors that had a significant or relevant effect on the credit analysis.
A description of how DBRS Morningstar considers ESG factors within the DBRS Morningstar analytical framework can be found in the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings at (May 17, 2022) https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/396929.
All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.
DBRS Morningstar applied the following principal methodology:
-- Global Methodology for Rating Companies in the Industrial Products Industry (February 14, 2023) https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/409775
The following methodologies have also been applied:
-- DBRS Morningstar Global Criteria: Guarantees and Other Forms of Support (March 28, 2023) https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/411694
-- DBRS Morningstar Global Criteria: Commercial Paper Liquidity Support for Nonbank Issuers (February 24, 2023) https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/410196
The credit rating methodologies used in the analysis of this transaction can be found at: https://www.dbrsmorning-star.com/about/methodologies.
A description of how DBRS Morningstar analyzes corporate finance transactions and how the methodologies are collectively applied can be found at: https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/397223/interplay-of-global-corporate-finance-rating-methodologies-when-analyzing-corporate-finance-transactions.
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The rated entity or its related entities did participate in the rating process for this rating action.
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