SANTIAGO, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The world's largest heavy machinery maker, Caterpillar Inc, expects record sales and profit this year, as economic activity in China and the United States picks up, Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman told reporters during a visit to Chile.
Forecasts by Caterpillar, a bellwether for global spending and credit conditions, have long been seen as one of the more telling indicators of future world economic growth or malaise.
"In 2012 we're going to have another year of record sales and profit," Oberhelman said, adding he sees revenue rising between 10 and 20 percent this year.
"At the moment, (economic growth in) Asia is dropping a little, Europe is in recession and the United States is recovering quite a bit ... We're seeing a little more activity in China this year."
Caterpillar in January said it expected between $68 billion and $72 billion in sales during fiscal year 2012 and would invest about $4 billion on capital expenditures this year.
The company in January reported a 58 percent rise in fourth- quarter earnings that blew away Wall Street expectations on record sales of construction and mining equipment, and projected strong growth for 2012.
Latin America will be the region with the strongest growth in a few years, Oberhelman added.