DOVER, Del. (AP) — DuPont Co. said Tuesday that strong seed and insecticide sales, lower taxes and cost controls helped double its fourth-quarter net income, and the chemicals giant announced plans to buy back $5 billion of its shares to boost shareholder returns.
DuPont's adjusted earnings beat Wall Street expectations, though revenue fell short. Its shares slipped 1 percent to close at $59.57 as the broader markets ticked up slightly. The stock is still up 24 percent in the past 12 months.
DuPont's agriculture business usually posts a fourth-quarter seasonal loss, but this time benefited from earlier than expected seed sales in Brazil and North America and strong demand for insecticides in Latin America. Profit in the company's electronics segment jumped on stronger demand for Solamet paste and Tedlar films in photovoltaics used for solar electricity, executives said on a conference call with analysts Monday.
DuPont also pointed to better profitability in its safety and protection business driven by more demand for Kevlar fiber used in body armor and fire-resistant Nomex material. And higher pricing and stronger demand for nutritional items such as probiotics boosted earnings in that division.
Lower prices for titanium dioxide (used for white pigments in paint and cosmetics) and refrigerants, as well as higher raw material costs, weighed on profits in the performance chemicals business. DuPont is in the process of spinning off that segment, which generates significant cash but is subject to highly volatile markets.