Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, said Monday its fourth-quarter profit fell more than 32 percent, and plans about 20,000 job cuts.

The Peoria, Ill., company said earnings plunged as mining companies and other customers cut back on purchases amid slumping commodity prices and tough market conditions.

Caterpillar, an economic bellwether and component of the Dow Jones industrial average, reported a fourth-quarter profit of $661 million, or $1.08 a share, compared with $975 million, or $1.50 a share, last year.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $12.92 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected Caterpillar to report earnings of $1.31 per share on revenue of $12.84 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Meanwhile, the company also warned that profit in 2009 would be under severe pressure and said that it would cut about 17,000 workers and buy out 2,500 others, in a bid to cut costs.

Shares were down 7.26 percent, or $2.59 to $33.07 in morning trading.