DuPont profit beats as cost cuts take hold

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DuPont reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by cost cuts, and said its merger with Dow Chemical Co was expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2017.

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DuPont also said the planned spinoff of the businesses would happen 18 months after the closure of the deal. The two companies plan to create three listed entities, focusing on agriculture, materials and specialty products following their merger.

However, the mega-merger is being scrutinized by regulators world over, with EU antitrust officials resuming investigation this month after halting it in early September.

A number of big deals this year have been abandoned on anti-trust worries as regulators around the world increase scrutiny.

Chinese state-owned chemicals company ChemChina is willing to offer more concessions to win EU approval for its $43 billion bid for Swiss pesticide and seed group Syngenta AG , Reuters reported on Tuesday.

DuPont also raised its full-year operating earnings forecast to $3.25 per share from its previous range of $3.15-$3.20 per share.

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Net sales rose marginally to $4.92 billion, also topping estimates of $4.87 billion.

Revenue from its agriculture business, which accounted for about 23 percent of its total revenue, rose 2.4 percent as higher volumes partially offset lower prices.

However, the company forecast fourth-quarter sales in the unit to fall in the mid-single-digit percentage range and said it expected weakness in commodity prices to continue.

DuPont posted net income attributable to shareholders of $2 million, or breakeven per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with $235 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company recorded a net charge of $172 million related to employee severance and asset writedowns.

Excluding items, the company earned 34 cents per share, beating analysts' estimate of 21 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)