SANY Group
China-based SANY Group posted 2.3% market share growth in the first quarter.

Sales of excavators in China rebounded in March after a steep decline at the beginning of the year, according to a new investor report published April 9 by J.P. Morgan.

Excavator sales are still down compared to a year ago, but the pace of decline in March was only 6%, a significant improvement over January-February's precipitous drop of 47%.

China-based excavator manufacturers have expanded their market share, with SANY showing a 2.3% growth in the first quarter, driven by a new product rollout and a focus on smaller earthmoving machines. Small excavators have shown growth across the board in China, accounting for 54% of total excavator sales during the first quarter of 2013.

Changes in market shares for foreign companies was mixed, however, with such manufacturers as Doosan, Hitachi and Komatsu slightly down. In addition to Sany, Caterpillar Inc. also grew share, posting a small, 0.2% increase in the first quarter.

Growth in excavator sales in China was not limited to the domestic market. Export sales were up by 68% in the first quarter.

"We view this as incrementally positive for Cat," says Ann Duignan, J.P. Morgan analyst, who cautions that "excess inventory remains in the channel and is likely to remain an overhang on the market through 2013."

The rise in excavator sales in March also reflects the start of construction season, but that hasn’t translated into sales in other types of equipment. Concrete machinery and crane sales remain sluggish, and according to the report their outlook for 2013 remains unchanged.