Strong Agriculture Sales Carry DuPont to 1Q Beat

By Matt Egan Industrials FOXBusiness


Powered by accelerating agriculture sales and higher prices, manufacturing giant DuPont (DD) beat the Street on Thursday amid a 12% jump in revenue.

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The blue-chip company said it earned $1.49 billion, or $1.57 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $1.43 billion, or $1.52 a share. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.61, topping forecasts from analysts for $1.55.

DuPont said its revenue rose 12% to $11.23 billion, matching the Street’s view. While volumes shrank 2%, the company managed to cancel that out with an 8% increase in prices.

“DuPont's market-driven science and commitment to innovation and productivity are winning in key markets, despite economic headwinds early in the first quarter,” CEO Ellen Kullman said in a statement.

Looking ahead, DuPont reaffirmed its full-year guidance for 2012 non-GAAP earnings of $4.20 to $4.40, which translates to a 7% to 12% jump. The midpoint of that range, $4.30, would exceed the Street’s view of $4.25.

The markets had a muted response to the report as DuPont’s shares were recently off 0.19% to $53.17. They have declined more than 3% over the past 12 months, but are up 16% so far in 2012.

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DuPont enjoyed strong growth in most regions last quarter, including a 13% jump in U.S. and Canada sales to $4.8 billion and a 14% leap in its Europe, Middle East and Africa division to $3.2 billion. While Asia Pacific sales were flat at $2 billion, revenue in Latin America soared 23% to $1.2 billion thanks in part to a 15% rise in local prices.

The first-quarter results were driven by a 16% increase in agriculture sales to $4.1 billion thanks to 8% increases in prices and volumes. DuPont said it saw “robust” sales of North American corn and benefited from a “strong” early start to the European season.

The upbeat agriculture results more than offset a 17% drop in electronics and communications sales to $700 million. DuPont said its nutrition and health revenue surged 149% to $800 million, while performance chemicals sales gained 6% to $1.9 billion.

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