CORRECTED – (OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 4-DuPont posts profit; sees Q1 sales up 15 pct

(Company corrects pension expense to 10 cents/share lower
instead of 10 cents/share, in next-to-last paragraph)

* Q4 Q4 EPS 44 cents ex-items; Street forecast 41 cents

* Revenue jumps 12.3 percent

* Boosts 2010 earnings view, sees economy improving

* Q1 sales expected to increase 15 percent

* Shares up 0.6 pct in noon trading
(Adds conference call, analyst comment; updates stock price)

By Ernest Scheyder

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (BestGrowthStock) – DuPont (DD.N: ) posted a
stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) on Tuesday as
revenue surged in Asia, and improving market trends and cost
savings led the chemical maker to boost its earnings forecast
for 2010.

DuPont makes the building blocks for thousands of common
items, such as plastics, paint and electronics.

Its results — which included a 12.3 percent jump in
revenue — often offer investors a look at macroeconomic
health, and the company reaffirmed a previous commitment to
increase sales 10 percent over the next three years.

“The visibility we have into 2010 is much better and very
encouraging compared to the picture we had one year ago heading
into 2009,” Chief Executive Ellen Kullman told a conference
call on Tuesday. “We will reap the benefits … of accelerating
growth and operating leverage.”

Sterne Agee analyst Mark Connelly said Kullman’s confidence
in 2010 and the raised guidance speaks to her “bullishness”
about improving the company’s performance.

“DuPont’s numbers are showing you that not only is the
stimulus helping, but their internal performance has turned
around completely,” Connelly said. “It looks to me that
(Kullman) is pretty confident there’s a whole lot more they can
do internally, whether the economy cooperates or not.”

Alembic Global Advisors analyst Hassan Ahmed praised the
“good numbers” and agreed the economy appears to be improving
but said he would not change his “neutral” rating on the stock.
He feels DuPont shares are fairly valued at current levels.

Shares of DuPont, a Dow Jones industrial average component,
rose 18 cents to $33 in noon trading. The stock has traded
between $16.05 and $35.62 in the past 52 weeks.

AREAS OF GROWTH

In Asia, DuPont’s sales jumped 36 percent and volume — the
physical amount of product sold — rose 34 percent. Analysts
had not expected results to be that strong in the region.

Asia is considered an important area of growth for the
chemical industry as the United States recovers from the
recession. DuPont’s U.S. sales slipped 2 percent in the
quarter.

Among the company’s business units, pharmaceuticals brought
in the lion’s share of operating income, about $247 million, or
nearly a third of the total. Much of that, though, came from a
heart medication whose patent expires at the end of 2010.

Outside pharmaceuticals, the company’s chemicals unit
posted the best operating income, helped mostly by sales of
titanium dioxide, which is used in paint for cars and
construction.

DuPont’s agriculture and nutrition segment posted an
operating loss, due in part to seasonal weakness. The result is
notable, though, because DuPont would not have posted a profit
during some parts of the recession without the ag unit.

On the conference call with investors, though, DuPont said
it expects a “strong start” to the North American seed market.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Wilmington, Delaware-based company posted earnings of
$441 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with a
year-earlier loss of $629 million, or 70 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items associated with a restructuring
plan, DuPont reported earnings of 44 cents per share. By that
measure, analysts expected 41 cents, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

Part of the restructuring charge was associated with
DuPont’s plan to cull $1 billion in fixed costs, a goal the
company said it reached in 2009. Part of those cuts came from
reducing the size of its work force by 14,000, and the company
said it could rehire workers this year depending on the
economy.

Revenue rose 12.3 percent to $6.42 billion, exceeding the
$6.16 billion analysts had expected.

For 2010, DuPont boosted its earnings forecast to a range
of $2.15 to $2.45 per share from a prior outlook of $2.10 to
$2.40. Sales are expected to jump 15 percent in the first
quarter.

While the improving economy helped boost the outlook, lower
pension costs also helped. DuPont, which had been expecting
pension costs in 2010 of 10 cents to 30 cents per share, said
it now expects such costs to be 10 cents a share lower than
originally anticipated.

DuPont’s selling, general and administrative costs jumped
about 7 percent during the quarter. Most companies, including
DuPont, relied heavily on cost cuts in 2009 to bolster
profits.

Stock Trading
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, John
Wallace, Tim Dobbyn)

CORRECTED – (OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 4-DuPont posts profit; sees Q1 sales up 15 pct