* First-quarter farm sales up 14 pct
* First-quarter adj earnings/share $1.56 vs est $1.52
* Net sales rise marginally to $10.4 bln
* Shares up 4 percent
By Garima Goel
April 23 Chemicals maker DuPont forecast
further strong growth in demand for its seeds and pesticides
after it more than doubled quarterly profit, reinforcing a push
into food and agriculture that has eased its dependence on paint
Sales in DuPont's agricultural business rose 14 percent in
the first quarter as the worst dry spell in decades encouraged
U.S. farmers to buy its drought-hardy seeds and crop-protection
products to boost yields.
"As we look to the second quarter, we expect (agricultural)
sales growth similar to the first quarter," said Jim Borel,
executive vice-president of DuPont's Agriculture and Nutrition &
DuPont shares were up 4 percent at $52.27 on the New York
Stock Exchange in late-afternoon trading.
The 210-year-old company is focusing on food and
agricultural products that are less exposed to ebbs and flows in
sales of its titanium dioxide paint pigment, part of its
performance chemicals business.
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.
DuPont's agricultural business contributed almost 45 percent
to the company's revenue in the first quarter. The performance
chemicals business, which includes titanium dioxide, accounted
for about 15 percent.
Sales in the performance chemicals business slid 17 percent.
Borel said he expected a "strong finish" to the
grain-planting season in the northern hemisphere to drive sales
growth in the current three months.
Strong wheat, corn and soybean prices spurred DuPont's
first-quarter agricultural sales in the Americas, and have also
helped boost sales for rivals Monsanto Co and Syngenta
The growth has overshadowed an ongoing decline in demand for
DuPont's once-lucrative titanium dioxide -- a trend that is
likely to continue in the second quarter.
"We expect strong growth again in our agriculture segment
and tough comparisons to prior-year peak levels in performance
chemicals," DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said on a
post-earnings conference call.
'MUCH SMALLER FACTOR'
DuPont's net income 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.
However, earnings from continuing operations dipped to $1.47
per share from $1.48, weighed down by weak titanium dioxide
"(Titanium dioxide) has declined and it's a much smaller
factor now," said John Roberts, who leads U.S. chemical coverage
at UBS Investment Research.
Excluding one-time items, DuPont earned $1.56 per share.
Analysts on average had estimated $1.52 per share.
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.
DuPont also increased its quarterly cash dividend by 5
percent, or 2 cents, to 45 cents per share.