DuPont (DD) disclosed a 70% plunge in fourth-quarter profits on Tuesday amid stalling revenue, but the chemical giant managed to surpass Wall Street’s expectations and issued upbeat guidance.
Shares of the economic bellwether gained about 1% on the earnings beat and outlook.
DuPont said it earned $111 million, or 12 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $373 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, it earned 11 cents a share, topping forecasts from analysts for seven cents.
While volumes rose 3%, revenue was flat at $7.33 billion, besting the Street’s view of $7.26 billion. Revenue was hurt 2% by currency impact. Gross margins dipped to 18.3% from 19.3%.
“DuPont stands stronger today than it did a year ago. Our segments delivered innovation, productivity and integration cost synergies,” CEO Ellen Kullman said in a statement. “However, weakness in markets served by Performance Chemicals and Electronics & Communications provided significant challenges in 2012.”
DuPont’s U.S. and Canada revenue was flat at $2.5 billion, while revenue in Latin America soared 10% to $1.3 billion. The company’s Asia Pacific division posted flat sales of $1.9 billion, but its Europe, Middle East and Africa dropped 8% to $1.6 billion due to negative currency affect and a 2% drop in volume.
A number of DuPont’s business lines suffered a decline in revenue, including a 15% tumble in performance chemicals to $1.6 billion and a 5% decline for performance materials to $1.5 billion. On the upside, agriculture revenue soared 18% to $1.5 billion and sales of nutrition and health products gained 6% to $900 million.
Looking ahead, DuPont forecasted 2013 non-GAAP EPS of $3.85 to $4.05, representing a 2% to 7% jump from 2012. Analysts had been calling for non-GAAP EPS of just $3.84.
Full-year sales are seen hitting about $36 billion, matching the Street’s view of $35.99 billion.
“We've adjusted our plans to meet the changing market environment and grow our businesses in a slow-growth world economy,” said Kullman.
Shares of Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont rose 0.98% to $47.45 in premarket trading. While the stock has gained about 4.5% so far in 2013, it remains down almost 5% over the past 12 months.