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DuPont 1Q Profit Rises On Pricing, Agricultural Sales

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES DuPont Co.'s (DD) first-quarter profit rose 4% as the chemicals giant benefited from higher pricing and a jump in sales of agricultural products, as well as strong growth in developing markets. DuPont, a diversified U.S. manufacturer, has received a boost from higher pricing in recent quarters, offsetting raw material expenses. The company was one of the first companies last year to highlight the issue of destocking--customers working down their inventories instead of buying new products. The company saw a dip in its profits at the end of the year, and warned that customers in its consumer electronics sector would continue destocking. Dupont saw a brighter outlook in other sectors, however, expecting a bounce from U.S. auto making and other manufacturing. DuPont reported income of $1.49 billion, or $1.57 a share, up from $1.43 billion, or $1.52, a year earlier. Excluding special items, earnings in the latest quarter were $1.61 a share. Net sales were up 12% to $11.23 billion. Volume dropped 2%, offset by prices, which rose 8%. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimated a profit of $1.55 on revenue of $11.23 billion. DuPont's agricultural segment, its biggest topline contributor, rose 16% in sales, with growth in volumes and pricing. The company's performance materials segment saw roughly 6% lower sales, while sales of performance coatings were up 6%. Sales in developing markets grew 15%. Shares of DuPont, which affirmed its 2012 guidance, closed Wednesday at $53.27 and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 16% so far this year. --By Kristin Jones, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2208;

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