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Pigment Prices Paint Profit for DuPont

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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Double-digit price increases rang up a spectacular first quarter for the world’s largest producer of titanium dioxide—the most widely used pigment in coatings.

DuPont sales increased by 18% overall—and by 30% in developing markets— to $10 billion, with nearly half of the increase coming from higher selling prices, the Wilmington, DE-based company announced in its first-quarter report

CEO and chair Ellen Kullman reported “outstanding results, including double-digit sales increases in every segment and in every region."

 Images: DuPont

Sales in Performance Chemicals, which includes titanium technologies, climbed 27% to $1.8 billion.

Net income climbed 27 percent to $1.43 billion, bringing first-quarter 2011 earnings to $1.52 per share, compared to $1.24 per share in the prior year, despite a $.14 decline in pharmaceuticals earnings, the company said.

‘Robust Performance’

The third-biggest U.S. chemical maker raised its 2011 earnings forecast and posted first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates. The company notched a 31% increase in segment pre-tax operating income.

Kullman credited the “robust performance” to “innovation that addresses population-driven megatrends.”
 Ellen Kullman
CEO Ellen Kullman called the first quarter “outstanding.”

She cited, for example, the 2010 launch of a family of products called Zytel PLUS—resins that “provide a set change in heat resistant properties and open up new opportunities for metal replacement in automotive application.” Kullman said adoption of the technology has been 75% faster than previous similar launches.
Performance Chemicals

Sales in Performance Chemicals, which includes titanium technologies, climbed a whopping 27%, to $1.8 billion, due to 21% higher selling prices and 6% higher volume, the company said. Pre-tax earnings of $394 million were $204 million greater than the same period last year, with PTOI margins climbing to 22%, said vice president Karen Fletcher.

Sales increased across all regions, especially in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. Higher selling prices stemmed from strong global demand for titanium dioxide, refrigerants and fluoroproducts.
Fletcher predicted even greater segment growth in the second quarter. “This is the peak season for many of the segments' products,” she said in a conference call about the earnings. “Performance chemicals sales and earnings are expected to grow substantially year-over-year, given tight supply in the face of strong demand for several of our products.”

Performance Coatings

Performance Coatings sales increased by 10%, to $1.0 billion.  Global automotive markets improved, and strong demand continued in industrial coatings, particularly in the North American heavy-duty truck market, said DuPont, the world’s biggest maker of car paint.

Pre-tax operating income was $65 million, 44% above prior year on stronger sales and improved operating leverage, Fletcher said.
Performance Materials sales, which includes Performance Polymers, increased 11% to $1.7 billion.

Global auto production will be down “significantly” in the second quarter because of the Japanese earthquake, and coating sales will gain “modestly” as a result, DuPont said.

In Performance Materials, which includes Packaging & Industrial Polymers and Performance Polymers, sales increased 11%, to $1.7 billion.


DuPont increased its full-year 2011 earnings outlook to a range of $3.65 to $3.85 per share from its previous range of $3.45 to $3.75, reflecting the “strong first-quarter earnings and execution of the company's growth plans with the expectation of continued global economic growth,” the company said.

As previously announced, DuPont’s plan to acquire Copenhagen-based Danisco A/S, the world’s biggest producer of food additives and the second-largest maker of industrial enzymes, could reduce 2011 earnings by $.30-$.45 per share on a reported basis.


Tagged categories: DuPont; Earnings reports; High-performance coatings; Pigments; Protective coatings; Raw materials; Titanium dioxide

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