* January three-month dealer sales up 49 pct worldwide
* Merger partner Bucyrus earnings top forecasts
* Caterpillar shares up 0.9 pct (Adds details on Bucyrus results, updates share movement)
NEW YORK, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc’s (CAT.N) machinery sales through dealers accelerated in the trailing three-month period through January, according to data posted on the equipment maker’s website.
Dealer-reported retail sales were up 49 percent worldwide from a year earlier, accelerating from the 44 percent pace reported last month. The increase was led by jumps of 58 percent in North America and 56 percent in Latin America, both marking a sequential increase, according to data on the website.
Retail sales were up 38 percent in Asia-Pacific, slightly below December’s pace, and up 46 percent in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, marking an acceleration.
Sales of reciprocating and turbine engines were up 23 percent, their fourth consecutive sequential increase.
Caterpillar shares extended their initial gains after the sales data. They were up 0.9 percent at $104.34 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The shares also received support from a stronger-than-expected profit report from mining equipment maker Bucyrus International Inc BUCY.O, which Caterpillar is in the process of buying.
Late on Thursday, Bucyrus reported a profit of $1.58 per share on sales of $1.24 billion. That compared with analysts’ expectations of $1.31 a share on revenue of $1.15 billion.
The results benefited from strong margins on the company’s underground mining products.
Bucyrus shareholders last month approved the proposed $7.6 billion takeover by Caterpillar. However, U.S. antitrust regulators are seeking more information on the deal, which would seal Caterpillar’s position as the world’s largest maker of mining equipment. [ID:nSGE70J099]
Caterpillar Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman has said the regulatory move was not unexpected, and the partners are still on schedule for a mid-2011 closing.
Bucyrus shares were little changed at $91.
Earlier this week, the CEO of rival mining machinery maker Atlas Copco (ATCOa.ST) told Reuters he did not feel added pressure to grow through acquisitions from the Caterpillar-Bucyrus tie-up, but said his company had the wherewithal to do a large deal. [ID:nN14115274] (Reporting by Nick Zieminski, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)