July 22, 2008 / 10:13 AM / 11 years ago

DuPont earnings rise, boosted by agriculture

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chemical maker DuPont Co (DD.N) on Tuesday posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings as strong demand for its corn and soybean seeds offset weakness in the domestic housing and automotive markets.

DuPont corn is harvested in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/DuPont/Handout

DuPont, one of the largest U.S. chemical companies, has benefited from a global agricultural boom that has spurred sales of its genetically modified seeds and other products.

However, the Wilmington, Delaware-based company has suffered because of the slump in domestic housing, since a range of its products, including Tyvek and Corian, are used in residential construction. Weak automotive markets have also hurt DuPont, as it is one of the largest suppliers of paints to that industry.

Second-quarter net income increased to $1.08 billion, or $1.18 a share, from $972 million, or $1.04 a share, a year earlier. The latest results included gains of 7 cents per share from a litigation settlement and a lower tax base.

Revenue in the quarter rose 12.2 percent to $8.84 billion, driven by strong sales growth from the agriculture business and 18 percent sales growth in overseas markets.

Analysts on average had forecast earnings of $1.07 on revenue of $8.43 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

DuPont increased the lower end of its full-year earnings outlook to $3.45 per share from $3.40, while keeping the high end at $3.55. Wall Street is expecting $3.50.

The company expects second-half earnings per share to be modestly lower than a year earlier because of higher energy and ingredient costs, lower demand in certain developed markets, lower income from asset sales, and a higher tax rate.

Second-half earnings per share should be about equally split between the third and fourth quarters, DuPont said.

Shares of DuPont have fallen about 10 percent over the last three months, while the Standard & Poor’s Chemical Index .GSPPM is down about 2.6 percent.

Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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