January 22, 2013 / 12:00 PM / in 5 years

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Slumping pigment demand eats into DuPont's profit

(Corrects EPS and I/B/E/S figure in 6th paragraph)

Jan 22 (Reuters) - 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 found in products ranging from car paint to sunscreen. In 2012, that unit’s share of the company’s overall profit declined to 28 percent from nearly a third in 2011.

“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 boost DuPont’s shares 1.1 percent to $47.51 in premarket trading.

The company posted net income of $111 million, or 12 cents per share, down from $373 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.

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 build panels.

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.

Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont is the most valuable U.S. chemical maker, as measured by market capitalization. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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