In North America, the largest regional segment for Caterpillar, April retail sales fell 18% from a year ago in the wake of 11% and 12% declines in March and February, respectively.
The OEM giant has seen sluggish sales over the past few months in all regions except Latin America, where demand increased as much as 28% during April, building on growth from the previous two months.
Sales in Asia were hit by a decline in Chinese demand, dropping 20% last month. Asian sales posted a 24% drop in March and a 26% drop in February.
Narrow declines were also reported for Caterpillar’s Europe, Africa and the Middle East segment, declining 3%, 8% and 9% in April, March and February respectively.
Caterpillar also broke down its power systems sales by business sector, where all sectors declined expect for transportation. Total April sales by business sector fell 5%.
The slowdown is consistent with Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings decline.
The Illinois-based producer reported a Q1 profit just above half the size of its previous corresponding period result, earning $880 million or $1.31 a share, down 45% from $1.58 billion in Q1 2012.
But Caterpillar chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman said the cut should not come as a surprise.
“In our year-end 2012 financial release, we said the first quarter of 2013 would be challenging and it certainly was,” he said.
Sales in the same quarter fell 17% to $13.21 billion from $15.98 billion a year earlier.
Analysts often consider Caterpillar as a proxy for the health of the global construction and industrial sectors, and consider these sales statistics reflective of the current weak global economic market.