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DuPont profits, raises 2011 forecast

August 31, 2011

DuPont's quarterly profit beat expectations on strong sales of seeds, titanium dioxide pigment for paint, and Kevlar bulletproof vests, sending shares up as much as 2.6%.

The No. 3 U.S. chemical company by revenue also raised its 2011 earnings forecast, citing its buyout of Danish food additives maker Danisco earlier this year, the benefit of currency conversion and rising demand for titanium dioxide, a chemical used to make paint.

"We're focused and poised to perform well in the second half of 2011," CEO Ellen Kullman says.

DuPont offset a $540 million jump in second-quarter raw material costs with price increases totaling $756 million. The company says that so far the higher prices have not dented demand for many of its popular products, especially titanium dioxide (Ti02).

"We continue to sell every ton of Ti02 we can make," says Karen Fletcher, DuPont's head of investor relations. "For the remainder of the year we see no let-up in demand."

Jeff Windau, a chemical industry analyst with Edward Jones, states the consistent price increases could come back to bite DuPont. "It just raises some caution from our perspective," he says. "There may be some volatility or fluctuations that occur."

DuPont reported net income of $1.22 billion, or $1.29 per share, compared with $1.17 billion or $1.26 per share a year earlier. Excluding costs from the Danisco deal, earnings were $1.37 per share. By that measure, analysts expected $1.34, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue rose 19% to $10.26 billion. DuPont raised its 2011 earnings outlook to $3.90-$4.05 per share. The new forecast is above Wall Street's estimate of $3.87.

DuPont previously forecast 2011 earnings of $3.65 to $3.85 per share. The Danisco buyout added about 3 percentage points to DuPont's second-quarter sales and should add five cents to 2011 earnings per share, DuPont said.

Sales of DuPont's genetically modified seeds and herbicides in the agricultural unit rose 10% to $2.99 billion. The unit also brought in the largest slice of DuPont's operating income, roughly $826 million. The company also said customers gobbled up its Kevlar bulletproof material and other safety and protection products, pushing sales in that unit up 21%.