Caterpillar Inc reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday lifted by especially strong sales of its machines and engines in Asia and Latin America.

The company also predicted it would post a 2011 profit near $6.00 per share, above the market consensus of $5.86 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of earth-moving construction and mining equipment, reported a fourth-quarter net profit of $968 million, or $1.47 a share, up from $232 million, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales at the company, which also makes diesel engines, gas turbines and railroad locomotives, rose 62 percent to $12.8 billion.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Derek Caney)