DuPont profit beats Wall Street estimates, helped by price hikes

NEW YORK, Thu Apr 19, 2012 – DuPont’s first-quarter profit beat Wall Street expectations, helped by price hikes and strong sales of insecticides and genetically modified seeds.

The company reaffirmed its 2012 earnings target, with Chief Executive Ellen Kullman saying DuPont will prioritize research and development spending on food, energy and security products.

Results from DuPont often serve as a barometer for the global economy since its materials are used to produce a range of items, from cars and homes to televisions and smartphones.

Shares of DuPont rose 0.7 percent to $53.65 in premarket trading.

First-quarter sales in Europe rose 14 percent, largely due to DuPont’s 2011 buyout of Danish food ingredients maker Danisco. The buyout reflected Kullman’s desire to stabilize earnings and grow DuPont’s presence in the expanding food market.

Sales in Asia were flat, in part because of soft demand for titanium dioxide paint pigment from automobile manufacturers.

Sales in the United States and Latin America both spiked.

The company on Thursday posted net income of $1.49 billion, or $1.57 per share, compared with $1.43 billion, or $1.52 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a $50 million payment to customers of DuPont’s Imprelis herbicide, which damaged certain customers’ trees, the company earned $1.61 per share. By that measure, analysts expected $1.55, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.