* Q4 adjusted EPS 11 cents vs. Street forecast 7 cents
* Titanium dioxide markets remain weak
* CEO calls on Obama, U.S. Congress to solve deficit
* Shares up 1 percent
By Ernest Scheyder
Jan 22 Weak demand for paint pigment and solar
panel parts eroded DuPont's fourth-quarter profit, with
Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman tempering expectations for
those once-lucrative markets due to "significant challenges."
Demand fell most for DuPont's titanium dioxide pigment,
which is used to color paper and plastics. In 2012, that unit's
share of the company's overall profit declined to 28 percent
from nearly a third in 2011.
Titanium dioxide sales are closely linked to gross domestic
product and often are a solid barometer of economic health.
"We've adjusted our plans to meet the changing market
environment and grow our businesses in a slow-growth world
economy," Kullman said in a statement on Tuesday.
The company's results did beat Wall Street expectations,
mainly because of strong sales of food and plastics. That helped
DuPont's shares rise 1 percent to $47.46 in morning trading.
DuPont plans to invest more of its research budget this year
in food and nutrition businesses, part of Kullman's
long-standing policy of showering funding largely on growth
areas rather than using funds to prop slipping areas.
Kullman, CEO since 2009, called on U.S. politicians to reach
an agreement on the nation's debt and deficit within the next
few months, saying the uncertainty is harming job creation.
"We're not getting a recovery in the U.S. that we would have
expected," Kullman said. "Understanding the environment, from a
tax and regulatory perspective, creates the opportunity to act.
I think that uncertainly has been hanging with us for a while."
The company posted net income of $111 million, or 12 cents
per share, down from $373 million, or 40 cents per share, a year
Excluding one-time items, DuPont earned 11 cents per share.
By that measure, analysts expected 7 cents, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales fell less than 1 percent to $7.33 billion.
Analysts had expected $7.26 billion.
DuPont said "softness" in the solar panel market had dented
sales. The company supplies pastes and other parts needed to
DuPont said it expected to earn $3.85 to $4.05 per share in
2013, while Wall Street expects $3.84.
The company forecast 2013 sales of $36 billion, compared
with analysts' estimates of $35.9 billion.
Plans to buy back $1 billion in stock in 2013 should boost
the company's profit this year by 5 cents per share, Kullman
Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont is the most valuable U.S.
chemical maker, as measured by market capitalization.