DuPont posts lower earnings

/ Source: The Associated Press

DuPont Co. reported lower fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, as fewer one-time gains, as well as higher energy and raw material costs, offset increased selling prices and favorable exchange rates.

The nation's second-largest chemical maker said its quarterly income fell to $278 million, or 28 cents per share, from $636 million, or 63 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding items, the company earned 37 cents per share in the latest quarter, up from 29 cents in the prior-year quarter. Sales declined to $6.0 billion from $6.48 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings per share of 33 cents on sales of $5.76 billion.

Segment sales, excluding the divested Textiles & Interiors businesses, grew 14 percent on 5 percent volume growth and 7 percent higher U.S. dollar selling prices. Local selling price increases more than offset the impact of higher raw material costs, the company said.

For the full year, the company posted net income of $1.78 billion, or $1.77 per share, up from $973 million, or 96 cents per share, last year. Excluding items, DuPont earned $2.38 per share in the latest period. Sales rose to $27.34 billion from $27 billion a year ago. Analysts forecast earnings per share of $2.34 on sales of $27.35 billion.

In October, the company backed its guidance for full-year earnings of $2.25 to $2.35 per share excluding charges. Looking ahead, DuPont said it expects 2005 earnings per share to range between $2.65 and $2.85, excluding items. Analysts are predicting income of $2.74 per share.