By Ernest Scheyder
NEW YORK (Reuters) - DuPont's <DD.N> profit rose 27 percent to trounce Wall Street's expectations, fueled by strong sales of seeds and solar panel films, leading the chemical giant to boost its earnings forecast.
Despite the strong results, shares rose only slightly on Thursday afternoon after weak employment numbers hit Wall Street.
DuPont, whose products touch the construction, agriculture and clothing sectors, is trying to buy Danish food additives maker Danisco <DCO.CO> for $5.9 billion.
Chief Executive Ellen Kullman stood firm on DuPont's bid, telling Danisco shareholders the company would not raise it.
<For a graphic on DuPont's earnings, click http://r.reuters.com/dah29r>
DuPont executives expect sales in the electronics unit, which includes solar sales as well as parts for smartphone and television screens, to grow "substantially" in the second quarter.
Sales of titanium dioxide to paint producers, Kevlar for bulletproof vests and lightweight plastics for automobiles also rose in the double-digit percentage range.
DuPont earned $1.43 billion, or $1.52 per share, in the first quarter, up from $1.13 billion, or $1.24 per share, a year earlier.
The results eclipsed the $1.36 per share analysts had been expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 18 percent to $10 billion. Analysts expected $9.19 billion.
Kullman said earnings growth and increased productivity "support our confidence in raising our full-year earnings outlook."
DuPont lifted its 2011 earnings forecast to a range of $3.65 to $3.85 per share. The Delaware-based company had previously forecast $3.45 to $3.75 per share, and Wall Street expects $3.71.
The current tender offer for the Danish company expires at the end of the month, and DuPont has yet to get more than a small fraction of Danisco shareholders to agree to the deal.
DuPont's offer represented a 25 percent premium to Danisco's stock price just before it was announced in January.
If a deal closes, nearly half of DuPont's revenue will come from food-related businesses, a stark change from its founding more than 200 years ago as a gunpowder producer.
The company expects the acquisition to dent 2011 earnings by 30 cents to 45 cents per share.
If a success, the buyout will define Kullman's legacy, much the way predecessor's Charlie Holliday's acquisition of seed maker Pioneer defined him.
Kullman's two-year track record at DuPont has thus far been marked by success. Her deft handling of the company's finances during the recession earned her a 15 percent base salary raise in 2010 to $1.3 million.
Shares of DuPont were up 0.3 percent at $55.51 in morning trading. The stock has jumped 42 percent in the past 52 weeks.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Derek Caney)