(Corrects reporting period to first quarter from fourth quarter
in paragraphs 10 and 12)
* First-quarter adj earnings/share $1.56 vs est $1.52
* Net sales rise marginally to $10.4 bln
* Raises dividend by 5 pct
By Garima Goel
April 23 Chemicals maker DuPont's
quarterly profit more than doubled as the worst dry spell in
decades encouraged U.S. farmers to buy its drought-hardy seeds
and crop-protection products to boost yields.
Strong wheat, corn and soybean prices also spurred
agricultural sales in the Americas, helping DuPont beat
estimates for the quarter despite an ongoing decline in demand
for its once-lucrative titanium dioxide paint pigment.
The Wilmington, Delaware-based company's shares traded up
0.7 percent at $50.74 before the bell on Tuesday.
"The first quarter finished as expected, with the strong
agriculture performance and performance chemicals' decline from
peak levels last year," DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman
said in a statement.
The 210-year-old company, known for its chemicals business,
is focusing on food and agriculture products that are less
exposed to ebbs and flows in titanium dioxide (Ti02) sales.
The shift is evident in the $5 billion sale of its car paint
unit last year and the $6 billion purchase of nutritional
supplements maker Danisco in 2011.
"Ti02 has declined and it's a much smaller factor now. We
also think it is bottoming so it's become less of an issue,"
John Roberts, who leads U.S. chemical coverage at UBS Investment
Research, said ahead of the announcement.
He had expected first-quarter earnings of $1.55 per share,
above the Wall Street estimates of $1.52 per share. Excluding
one-time items, DuPont earned $1.56 per share.
The company's net income, which included the beginning of
the North American spring planting season, jumped to $3.35
billion, or $3.58 per share, in the first quarter, from $1.49
billion, or $1.58 per share, a year earlier.
First-quarter earnings from continuing operations dipped to
$1.47 from $1.48 a year earlier.
Net sales rose marginally to $10.4 billion on higher prices
for seeds and crop protection products and demand in North
America and Latin America.
Agriculture business was the biggest source of revenue in
the first quarter, contributing almost 45 percent. The
performance chemicals business, which includes titanium dioxide
sales, accounted for about 15 percent.
Spiraling prices for wheat, corn and soybean have also
helped boost sales for rivals Monsanto Co and Syngenta
DuPont increased its quarterly cash dividend by 5 percent,
or two cents, to 45 cents per share.
(Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Rodney Joyce)