You Can't Ignore the Strength at DuPont

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Despite not being a graduate of the University of Tennessee like her predecessor, DuPont (NYS: DD) CEO Ellen Kullman has done a yeoman's job of guiding the company since she assumed its presidency in 2008. That was particularly true during the third quarter, when, despite beginning to feel at least slight economic twinges like a host of U.S. corporations did, DuPont roundly topped both comparable year-ago results and the consensus forecast from the analysts who follow the company.

For the quarter, the company earned $655 million, or $0.69 per share, excluding items. Those figures compared with $367 million, or $0.40 a share for the third quarter of 2010. Sales for the quarter increased by 32% to $9.2 billion, in part because of 15% higher local prices. The analysts had forecasted per-share earnings of $0.56 on revenues of $8.68 billion.

Geographically, sales rose by 23% in the U.S. and Canada; 40% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; 29% in Asia and the Pacific; and 43% in Latin America.

As to segment sales (including transfers), Agriculture was up 41%, Electronics and Communications increased by 20%, Nutrition and Health increased by 178%, Performance Chemicals rose by 28%, Performance Coatings were up 17%, Performance Materials were 11% higher, and the Safety & Protection unit expanded by 15%. Changes in the Industrial Biosciences segment were not meaningful.

Looking ahead, and given the results achieved in the third quarter, management has increased its earnings guidance for the full year to a range of $3.97 to $4.05 per share, excluding one-time items. Previous guidance had ranged from $3.90 to $4.05.

According to a statement by Kullman when the company's results were released: "The resilience and diversity of DuPont's business portfolio was evident in our strong third-quarter results. Despite turbulent global economic and market conditions, we delivered solid growth through innovative products and process technologies, disciplined execution and continued productivity gains."

And during the post-release call, she noted:

In addition to shaping the portfolio, we are executing well. Innovation remains the backbone of the company, with an arsenal of new products that delivered higher yields, healthier and better food, more efficient solar cells, more energy-efficient vehicles, new applications for personal protection, just to name a few. Thirty-one percent of last year's sales were from new products that were four years old or less.

Given the diversity among companies operating in the chemicals industry, we'll have a few days before getting a strong handle on the industry's current status and likely short- and intermediate-term future. For instance, Celanese (NYS: CE) reported strong quarterly results yesterday, while we'll have a trio of companies -- Eastman Chemical (NYS: EMN) , Dow Chemical (NYS: DOW) , andOlin (NYS: OLN) -- taking center stage tomorrow.

Nevertheless, I'd keep a close eye a DuPont, given the company's lengthening string of successful quarters and its propensity for innovation. An excellent way to keep tabs on the company is through the help of My Watchlist.

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At the time this article was published We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Fool contributorDavid Lee Smithdoesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.   

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