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DuPont Profit Trumps Street View, Sales Miss

DuPont Research Center

 (Reuters)

Held back by weak electronics demand, chemicals giant DuPont (DD) disclosed on Tuesday a 0.8% slip in fourth-quarter profits and weaker-than-expected revenue.

The Wilmington, Del.-based Dow component said it earned $373 million, or 40 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $376 million, or flat EPS of 40 cents, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned 35 cents a share, surpassing the Street’s view of 33 cents.

Sales jumped 14% to $8.4 billion, trailing consensus calls for $8.53 billion. Prices increased 14%, but volumes shrank by 10% due to destocking and weaker demand for consumer electronics and construction.

DuPont said its U.S. and Canada sales led the way last quarter at $2.7 billion, up 15% year-over-year. Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa soared 18% to $2.2 billion, matching revenue in Asia Pacific, which rose 7%. Latin American sales climbed 17% to $1.3 billion.

“We delivered exceptional full-year results in 2011 despite significant market headwinds late in the year,” CEO Ellen Kullman said in a statement. “We remain well-positioned to serve customers and innovate as key markets rebound and global population growth drives new opportunities."

DuPont was hurt by an 18% tumble in electronics and communications sales to $600 million as volumes dropped 33% due to destocking in photovoltaics and “softness” in consumer electronics.

On the other hand, performance chemicals revenue jumped 12% to $1.9 billion, while agriculture sales rose 8% to $1.3 billion and performance materials sales gained 1% to $1.6 billion.

Looking ahead, DuPont reaffirmed its 2012 financial targets, projecting earnings growth of 7% to 12%, translating to EPS of $4.20 to $4.40. The midpoint of that range, $4.30, would exceed expectations from analysts for $4.26.

Shares of DuPont slipped 0.71% to $49.00 ahead of the open, setting up a pullback from their 2012 rally of almost 8%.

Follow Matt Egan on Twitter @MattMEgan5