Worldwide volumes grew 4%, primarily from strong volume growth outside the U.S., reflecting higher sales of engineering and packaging polymers, elastomers and crop protection and seed products. DuPont attributes volume in the U.S. to lower sales into residential construction and automotive markets, largely due to customers’ efforts to reduce inventories. Global volume growth also reflects post-hurricane recovery, principally in the titanium dioxide business.
In its Performance Materials business, PTOI grew to $126 million from the $55 million earned in the hurricane-impacted fourth quarter 2005, primarily due to gains in performance elastomers and packaging and industrial polymers. Sales rose 7% to $1.7 billion, reflecting volume, price and currency gains. Sales growth was particularly strong in Asia Pacific and Europe.
In its Safety and Protection division, PTOI was $211 million versus $212 million earned in the prior year. Excluding significant items, PTOI was $245 million, up 16% due to strong sales and fixed cost productivity. Fourth quarter sales were up 5% to $1.4 billion, reflecting 2% higher volume and 3% higher U.S. dollar prices. All regions outside the U.S. grew at modest rates, offsetting a slight decline in the U.S.
DuPont said local prices were 5% higher than the prior year, more than offsetting the negative impact of higher energy and ingredient costs. The company also reaffirmed its 2005 expectation that about 70% of full-year earnings will be realized in the first half. The company now expects current market trends for energy-related costs to increase raw material costs significantly more than previously expected.
“This was a strong fourth quarter for our company with improved business results across the board and strong growth outside of the U.S.,” said Charles Holliday, Jr., DuPont chairman and CEO. “For the year, earnings per share grew 23% and return on invested capital increased significantly, reflecting the positive impact of executing our growth strategies and our actions to accelerate value creation. We will build on this momentum in 2007.”