Hits and misses in US company results

America’s biggest companies have delivered a mixed bag of earnings news, with a disappointing update by heavy equipment maker Caterpillar offset by forecast-beating news from GE, Schlumberger and McDonalds.

Caterpillar, which updated the market after the bell last night, said its second-quarter profit was $1.02bn (£629m), 44 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2010.

Despite this, its $1.72 per share earnings was three cents below its consensus expectation, and its shares were sent tumbling six per cent.

Caterpillar’s findings contrasted better than expected results from industrial giants Schlumberger and GE.

Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield services supplier said strong trading in its north American business pushed its second-quarter profits up 63 per cent to $1.34bn from $818 million a year earlier.

Earnings per share beat forecasts with a 54 per cent rise to 98 cents a share from 68 cents a share in 2010. Its shares rose 3.3 per cent in morning trading.

That sentiment was echoed at GE, the biggest conglomerate in the US, which produced a better than expected 21.6 per cent rise in profits and said it was optimistic about growth in the second half of the year.

GE’s industrial revenues outside the US were up 23 per cent in the quarter, outperforming the overall company, which recorded a seven per cent rise in sales from continuing operations.

Its second-quarter profit rose to $3.69bn, and factoring out one-time items, profit per share was 34 cents. On that basis, analysts had expected 32 cents.

Fast food maker McDonald’s also saw its shares rise more than three per cent after it announced forecast-beating profits for the quarter.

Same-restaurant sales were up 6.9 per cent in the US, 9.1 per cent in Europe and 4.8 per cent in its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa unit.

McDonald's’ second-quarter profits rose to $1.41bn, or $1.35 per share, from $1.23bn or $1.13 a share in the year-ago quarter – beating analysts' consensus of $1.28 per share.