Price hikes help DuPont profit beat Street

By Ernest Scheyder

The company, which makes a range of niche products including Kevlar and Tyvek, also raised its 2011 earnings forecast above what most Wall Street analysts expect.

For the third quarter, the company posted net income of $452 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with $367 million, or 40 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding one-time items, including the buyout this year of Danish food enzyme maker Danisco, DuPont earned 69 cents per share.

By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 56 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 32 percent to $9.24 billion. Analysts expected $8.79 billion.

DuPont raised prices 15 percent across its portfolio during the quarter, the largest jump in more than a decade.

The hike had an affect on demand: volume rose only 1 percent during the quarter.

Operating income in the company's performance chemicals unit, which makes the widely popular titanium dioxide pigment for paint, more than doubled.

Strong Latin American sales partially offset heavy spending in DuPont's agriculture unit, where an operating loss shrank 64 percent to $69 million.

The unit was hampered last August after DuPont recalled its widely used Imprelis herbicide. Many customers and several lawsuits complained that the treatment has killed thousands of trees.

The company spent heavily in its safety and protection unit, which makes the popular Kevlar material for bulletproof vests. DuPont recently expanded a South Carolina Kevlar plant.

Operating income in the safety and protection unit slipped 12 percent to $118 million.

Last month a U.S. federal jury awarded DuPont $919.9 million in damages, ruling that Kolon Industries Inc <120110.KS> stole Kevlar trade secrets. The ruling is being appealed.

For the year, DuPont expects to earn $3.97 to $4.05 per share. The company had previously forecast $3.90 to $4.05 per share.

Analysts expect 2011 earnings of $3.96 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Derek Caney)