Broad Growth Carries DuPont to 3Q Beat

DuPont (NYSE:DD) revealed surging third-quarter profits that exceeded forecasts on Tuesday as the chemicals heavyweight capitalized on broad-based volume growth.

Shares of the blue-chip industrial company flatlined during early trading as investors focused on a slight top-line miss.

DuPont said it earned $285 million, or 30 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $5 million, or break-even per share, a year earlier. The 2012 period was hurt by restructuring and other charges.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 45 cents a share, topping estimates from analysts by four cents.

Revenue increased 4.7% to $7.74 billion, narrowly trailing the Street’s view of $7.78 billion. Volumes increased 9% overall, although the company noted they were up against a weak comparison.

DuPont said U.S. and Canada sales increased 3% to $2.55 billion, while sales in the Asia-Pacific gained 3% to $1.94 billion. The company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division logged a 10% jump in revenue to $1.81 billion and its Latin American sales ticked up 4% to $1.43 billion.

"Third quarter sales volumes and operating earnings were stronger across most businesses compared to a soft quarter last year," DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said in a statement.

Volumes increased in all of DuPont’s business lines except nutrition and health, which saw volumes dip 1%. Agriculture volumes rose 10%, while electronics and communications volumes jumped 14%.

DuPont also enjoyed double-digit earnings growth for all of its operating segments except performance chemicals, which suffered a 38% drop in profits to $254 million.

The company’s electronics and communications division generated a 67% surge in profits, while safety and protection profits gained 16% to $171 million.

Looking ahead, DuPont reaffirmed its call for full-year operating earnings of about $3.85 a share, though it changed some underlying assumptions. Analysts are projecting EPS of $3.80.

Management now assumes slightly lower full-year growth rates for global gross domestic product and industrial production as well as a larger negative currency effect.

"While we expect overall sequential growth in industrial market demand will remain subdued, fourth quarter operating earnings will be up substantially from last year. For the full year we are on track to deliver modest earnings growth, despite the significant decline in performance chemicals' results,” Kullman said.

Shares of Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont slipped 0.30% to $59.28 in premarket trading Tuesday morning. DuPont has rallied 32% so far this year.