Caterpillar Inc reported a 29 per cent rise in first-quarter profit on Wednesday and beat analyst expectations as the company relied on its growing mining business and sales to US buyers looking to replace aging equipment. The world’s largest maker of construction machinery also increased its profit guidance for the year, but the new forecast may not be strong enough to comfort investor concern over the state of the global economy. Shares of Caterpillar slipped about 1.1 per cent in premarket trading. “The quarter was good, but guidance was only increased by the amount of the beat and revenue guidance was unchanged,” Jefferies & Co equities analyst Stephen Volkmann said in a note to investors. He said the company’s growing inventory levels “may raise some investor concerns.” Caterpillar is utilizing its strength in the mining business - bolstered by its 2011 acquisition of Bucyrus and healthy commodity prices - to ride out softening conditions in key emerging markets and a weak construction market. In addition, North American customers are scrambling to replace aging machinery, including excavators and bulldozers. Like many of its peers in the US industrial sector, Caterpillar continues to steadily outperform Wall Street expectations and is predicting another record year in 2012. An improving US economy is partially underpinning the performance of these companies. “We remain on track...at a time when US construction activity remains depressed and economies in Europe, China and Brazil have slowed,” Caterpillar Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman said in a press release. “Although it’s tough to predict the exact timing, we expect positive economic growth moving forward.” Record EPS The slowing in China and Brazil comes as those countries “took steps in 2011 to slow their economies and bring inflation under control,” Oberhelman said. Both economies are expected to ease their policies, Caterpillar said. Caterpillar reported net earnings of $1.6 billion, or $2.37 per share, compared with $1.2 billion, or $1.84 per share, a year earlier. The company said the first-quarter earnings per share figure was its highest on record. Caterpillar’s sales rose 23 per cent to $16 billion during the first quarter, the company said. Analysts on average had projected a profit of $2.13 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue, however, fell short of the $16.2 billion that Wall Street had expected. The company increased its profit outlook for the year to $9.50 per share from $9.25 previously. Caterpillar, however, kept its outlook for revenue in the range of $68 billion to $70 billion. Investors have been closely monitoring the company’s order backlog, which had grown to nearly $30 billion by the end of 2011. The backlog continued to grow in the first quarter, ending at $30.7 billion, the company said. The order backlog stood at $21 billion a year ago. The world’s largest maker of construction machinery also increased its profit guidance for the year, but the new forecast may not be strong enough to comfort investor concern over the state of the global economy. Shares of Caterpillar slipped about 1.1 per cent in premarket trading. “The quarter was good, but guidance was only increased by the amount of the beat and revenue guidance was unchanged,” Jefferies & Co equities analyst Stephen Volkmann said in a note to investors. During the first quarter, each of Caterpillar’s business units posted revenue and profit increases. The resources segment, which includes mining, was the top performer, delivering a 73 per cent increase in revenue and a 46 per cent jump in earnings. Construction products, the biggest of Caterpillar’s businesses, reported a 13 per cent increase in both sales and profit, the company said. Caterpillar Inc, the world’s biggest heavy machinery maker, has already sold a part of its Bucyrus distribution and support business to one of its Australian dealers for $400 million. The business, previously operated by Bucyrus in Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, was bought by WesTrac Pty Ltd, a unit of Seven Group Holdings Ltd . Last year Caterpillar closed its $7.6 billion buy of mining equipment maker Bucyrus International. It sold parts of the Bucyrus businesses in similar deals in December last year and early this year. The most recent deal, which is expected to close by June 30, will be neutral to WesTrac’s profit for the year ending June 30, but is expected to add to profit thereafter, WesTrac said in a separate statement.