Quarterly profit fell for DuPont, Wilmington, DE, as record energy costs, lower seed sales and the cost of European plant shutdowns outweighed a late rise in prices and demand. DuPont also raised its 2006 forecast, citing the strong pricing and reduced costs that bolstered its results toward the end of the quarter.
First-quarter profit fell 16% to $817 million, hurt partly by a charge from job cuts and plant closures in Europe, lower corn seed sales in North America and energy costs that jumped $350 million above levels a year earlier.
Last month, DuPont raised its first-quarter forecast to 80 cents per share after announcing 1500 job cuts and the closure of four slower-growth European coatings plants. Those actions would reduce costs by up to $165 million a year, the company said at the time. "We entered the quarter with headwinds that included record-high energy and ingredient costs ... As the quarter unfolded, our performance improved," Gary Pfeiffer, DuPont's chief financial officer, told investors.
Quarterly net sales totaled $7.4 billion, little changed from a year earlier. For the second quarter, the company expects to earn about 90 cents per share, anticipating that continued pricing strength, sales volumes and cost controls will offset higher energy and ingredient costs.