DuPont raises 2011 profit guidance, keeps sales outlook unchanged

25 January 2011 16:58  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--DuPont has raised its 2011 earnings guidance due to a lower base tax rate and reduced pension obligations as its previous sales outlook remains unchanged, the company's chief financial officer said on Tuesday.

DuPont raised the guidance for 2011 to $3.45-$3.75 per share, up from $3.30-$3.60 per share. The new guidance excluded DuPont’s planned $6.3bn deal for Denmark’s Danisco, which could reduce earnings by up to 45 cents per share, Nicholas Fanandakis said in a conference call.

DuPont’s previous sales forecast for 2011 of around $33bn (€24bn) to $34bn remained unchanged, he added.

While the economic recovery would continue this year, growth would proceed “at a more moderate pace” compared with 2010, he said.

DuPont expected raw materials prices to increase 4-5%, largely driven by metals, as well as price increases in ethane, adipic acid, chlorine, solvent and pigments, he said.

DuPont’s ability to pass through those higher costs to customers would vary from market to market, Fanandakis said.

In its titanium dioxide (TiO2) business, for example, DuPont was well-positioned, as that market was “extremely tight”, with capacity utilisation above 90% and no near-term major capacity expansion, he said.

“Sales to capacity continues to be tight for most performance chemical markets, and as a result we will continue to focus on debottlenecking incremental capacity to drive both earnings and productivity,” he added.

CEO Ellen Kullman said one of the challenges DuPont would face in 2011 was slower growth in the US automotive industry, compared with strong year-on-year growth in 2010.

In Europe, the outlook was “mixed”, Kullman said

Germany’s economy should grow by around 2.5%, she said, but added: “We are not expecting much out of automotive there.”

However, the Asia-Pacific automotive, photovoltaic, electronics, TiO2 and other markets were expected to continue “very, very strong”.

In Latin America, agricultural and nutritional markets would help drive DuPont’s business this year, she said.

DuPont earlier on Tuesday reported that 2010 fourth-quarter net profit fell by 14.7% year on year to $376m. However, before special charges and gains, its net profit rose 15.2% year on year to $463m.

New York-based equity research firm Alembic Global Advisors said DuPont’s fourth quarter exceeded estimates, largely because of lower taxes.

“That said, the quarter logged an impressive 12% volume growth with increases in all regions,” Alembic's head of research, Hassan Ahmed, said in a note to clients. 

“We were particularly encouraged by 9% volume growth seen in the US and 8% volume growth in [Europe, Middle East and Africa],” he added.

($1= €0.73)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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