updated 1/23/2007 7:51:29 AM ET 2007-01-23T12:51:29

Chemical maker DuPont Co. Tuesday reported higher quarterly earnings, meeting Wall Street forecasts, helped by gains in coating profits and a $449 million gain linked mostly to tax settlements and insurance recoveries.

Net income rose to $871 million, or 94 cents a share, from $154 million, or 16 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding significant items, earnings increased to 45 cents per share from 13 cents.

The profit matched analysts’ average forecast of 45 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net sales climbed 8 percent to $6.3 billion. About half that increase was due to higher sales prices and currency effects, the company said.

Full-year earnings climbed 23 percent to $2.88 per share from $2.34 in 2005.

The company reiterated its 2007 forecast for earnings per share of about $3.15, with growth outside the United States expected to top U.S. increases, and costs likely to be steady with 2006.

DuPont said it aimed to save more than $400 million in 2007 from productivity improvements designed to offset inflation and contribute to spending in growth areas.

Worldwide sales volumes grew by 4 percent, primarily from increases in engineering and packaging polymers, elastomers and crop protection and seed products outside the United States.

The Coatings and Color Technologies unit posted an operating profit of $282 million, up from $153 million a year earlier, when it suffered from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Coatings also saw a 31 percent jump in the sales of the pigment titanium dioxide and a gain on the sale of assets.

However, losses at the Agriculture and Nutrition business widened to $350 million from $272 million due to seasonal weakness as well as a $194 million restructuring charge.

Shares of DuPont, whose products range from Kevlar suits to hybrid seeds, have risen about 27 percent in the last six months, outstripping a 19 percent gain for the Standard and Poor’s Chemicals Index.

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