Originally created 04/28/04

DuPont reports 25 percent rise in first-quarter earnings



WILMINGTON, Del. -- DuPont reported a 25 percent increase in first-quarter earnings Tuesday, citing double-digit revenue growth in all of its operating segments.

Net income for the quarter totaled $668 million, or 66 cents per share, compared to $535 million, or 53 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2003.

Before special items, earnings per share totaled 96 cents, compared with 61 cents for last year's first quarter. The consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call was 95 cents per share.

Consolidated net sales for the quarter rose 15 percent to $8.1 billion from $7 billion a year ago, reflecting stronger volumes and higher U.S. dollar selling prices, the Wilmington-based chemical company said.

In addition to sales volumes and prices, the company attributed the increase in income to a lower income tax rate and the absence of depreciation on Invista assets held for sale, partly offset by higher raw material costs.

DuPont expects to close the sale of its Invista textiles unit to Koch Industries on Friday, with after-tax proceeds estimated at about $4.1 billion.

Proceeds from the sale will be used primarily to reduce debt, but DuPont also is evaluating a potential contribution to its principal U.S. pension plan.

Sales volume in the first quarter grew by 7 percent, led by 17 percent volume growth in the electronic and communications technologies segment, which almost tripled its pre-tax earnings from last year. Pre-tax operating income in other segments grew between 13 and 34 percent before special items, reflecting a strong agricultural season in the Northern hemisphere and momentum in the manufacturing and construction markets, the company said.

"We are off to an excellent start in 2004," said DuPont chairman and chief executive Charles O. Holliday Jr. "Each of the five DuPont growth platforms delivered strong results, exceeding our earnings expectations across all businesses and regions."

"Our first quarter results reinforce the strong future we see for our company, our customers and our shareholders," Holliday said. "Each day we are strengthening our ability to create and seize opportunities around the world."

DuPont said it expects to record a charge of between 17 cents and 19 cents per share in the second quarter in connection with its previously announced cost improvement program, as well as charges and credits associated with closing the Invista sale.

In December, the company announced a two-year, $900 million cost-cutting plan. As part of the restructuring, DuPont said earlier this month that it will eliminate 3,500 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global work force, by the end of this year.

Excluding special items, the company expects earnings per share for the second quarter to be in line with the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 78 cents. DuPont reaffirmed its previous full-year outlook of $2.10 to $2.30 per share, excluding the first- and second-quarter special items.