DuPont reports 23 pct increase in 3Q earnings

AP News
Posted: Oct 25, 2011 6:01 PM
DuPont reports 23 pct increase in 3Q earnings

Chemical maker DuPont said Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings increased 23 percent, boosted by strong demand for its agricultural products and price increases across its business segments and market regions.

The company reported net income of $452 million, or 48 cents per share, for the period that ended Sept. 30, up from $367 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier, when the expiration of some of the company's pharmaceutical patents lowered its net income by 13 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items such as costs associated with buying Danish food additives maker Danisco, DuPont said it earned 69 cents per share, beating the average estimate of 56 cents from analysts surveyed by FactSet.

"We executed very well, capitalizing on certain growth markets," said Ellen Kullman, chairwoman and CEO of Wilmington-based E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.

DuPont shares closed Tuesday down $1.15, or 2.5 percent, at $44.94. They regained 36 cents after hours.

Revenue increased 32 percent to $9.2 billion, largely due to higher selling prices and currency benefits. Analysts expected sales of $8.85 billion.

Volume dipped slightly in all regions except Latin America, where DuPont saw it grow 17 percent. But double-digit gains in local prices in all regions boosted net income.

Revenue in the agricultural unit increased 41 percent to $1.4 billion, with 26 percent higher volumes and 15 percent higher selling prices. DuPont said that reflected a strong, early start to the Latin American growing season. The company saw volume and price gains for its Pioneer corn and soybean seeds.

DuPont's pricing power also was evident in the performance chemicals unit, where prices increased 29 percent, driven by strong demand for fluoropolymers and titanium dioxide, a whitening pigment used in products ranging from paint and plastics to toothpaste.

"We sold every pound we could make ... The fundamentals of TiO2 are as healthy as ever," said Karen Fletcher, vice president of investor relations.

Danisco boosted performance in DuPont's nutrition and health unit, where revenue jumped by $540 million to $844 million, and it contributed $293 million in sales for the company's new industrial biosciences unit.

"DuPont is a far different company than it was just a few years ago," said Kullman, noting that the agriculture and nutrition and health units now account for almost one-third of sales, compared with about 25 percent three years ago.

At the same time, demand remains strong for products such as titanium dioxide, with DuPont saying customers are willing to pay more for value. Pretax operating income for performance chemicals increased by $301 million to $593 million because of higher selling prices, the company said.

"We think that the fundamentals are still there, and that the market will basically dictate that," Kullman said when asked whether DuPont will be able to raise margins again next year.

Based on its third-quarter results, DuPont narrowed its full-year earnings outlook to a range of $3.97 to $4.05 per share excluding significant items, the upper range of its previous guidance of $3.90 to $4.05 per share. Analysts expect $3.98 per share, on average.