DuPont earnings better than expected

Despite weaker sales across the board, DuPont Co. (DD) today posted stronger-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, thanks to its aggressive cost-cutting and declining prices for its raw materials.

The chemical giant reported that its third-quarter net income rose to $409 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with $367 million, or 40 cents a year earlier, helped by what the company called "significantly lower" costs. The 2008 numbers, however, included a $146 million (16 cents a share) after-tax hurricane-related charge. Sales plunged 18 percent to $6 billion on lower volume. Analysts had forecast profit of 33 cents. Shares of the Wilmington, Del., company rose in pre-market trading. They are up nearly 36 percent year to date.