Belfast Telegraph

Chemical firm aims high after sales gain

By Clare Weir

Chemical maker DuPont, which has a major base in Londonderry, has raised its earnings expectations for the year ahead after delivering better-than-forecast first quarter profits.

Net income was up 27% to $1.43bn (£0.8bn) from $1.13bn (£0.6bn), a year earlier.

Net sales were up 18% to $10bn (£6bn) from $8.48bn (£5.1bn) with 9% higher sales volume, 8% higher local price and a 1% increase from portfolio changes.

The firm has exceeded estimates in each of the nine quarters chief executive Ellen Kullman has been in charge.

Sales in developing markets grew 30%. Sales at the company's agriculture and nutrition sector jumped 18% as profit increased 21%. The performance chemicals and performance materials units saw respective sales gains of 27% and 11%.

Ms Kullman said: "Our science-powered innovation, keen focus on customers and disciplined execution contributed to delivering outstanding results.

"Innovation coupled with ongoing productivity and execution, will continue to differentiate DuPont. Our top-line growth and productivity results support our confidence in raising the full-year earnings outlook."

Du Pont raised its full-year profit forecast to a range of $3.65 to $3.85 a share from its previous 2011 range of $3.45 to $3.75 a share. However, a proposed $5.8bn (£3.4bn) acquisition of Danish ingredients and enzyme maker Danisco A/S could reduce 2011 earnings by 30% to 45 cents a share.

In January, DuPont announced it plans to buy the chemicals maker, including the assumption of $500m (£302m) debt. The deal is expected to close later this year.

There are currently 11 DuPont sites in the UK with approximately 1,200 employees. This year the firm, which employs nearly 200 people at Maydown outside Derry, celebrates its 50th anniversary in Northern Ireland.

DuPont operates in 90 countries across the world and serves markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, safety and protection and construction.

Over the years, DuPont has brought the world-famous household names as Lycra, Nylon, Kevlar, Teflon and Neoprene.

A spin-off company based at the Maydown site, Invista, now produces Lycra while the DuPont factory itself is a world leader in the production of Kevlar.