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DuPont's (DD) Earnings Crush Estimates, Lifts FY16 View

DuPont’s DD earnings for first-quarter 2016 topped expectations, aided by its cost-savings actions. But currency headwinds stemming from a strong U.S. dollar weighed on its sales in the quarter.  

On a reported basis, DuPont posted earnings from continuing operations of $1.39 per share for the quarter, up from $1.11 per share a year ago. Consolidated profit was $1.23 billion or $1.39 per share, a roughly 19% rise from a profit of $1.03 billion or $1.13 per share a year ago, helped by lower costs. Operating costs fell 7% year over year in the quarter while corporate expenses went down 44%.

Barring one-time items including restructuring charges, DuPont logged adjusted earnings of $1.26 per share in the reported quarter, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.02. Unfavorable currency translation impact of 10 cents per share affected the bottom line.

DuPont raked in net sales of $7,405 million for the quarter, a roughly 6% year-over-year decline. Headwinds from a strong greenback and lower volumes hurt sales. Currency impacted sales by 4%. Declines were witnessed across most segments in the quarter. Sales, however, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $7,202 million.


Segment Review
Agriculture: Revenues fell 4% year over year to around $3.8 billion in the reported quarter. Segment operating earnings was $1.1 billion, down 3% year over year as better product mix, higher pricing and cost savings were more than offset by unfavorable currency impact, reduced volumes and shutdown of the LaPorte plant.

Electronics & Communications: Sales went down 13% to $452 million in the quarter. Operating earnings for the segment slid 25% year over year to $59 million as cost savings and higher demand for Tedlar film were more than offset by reduced demand in consumer electronics, litigation expenses and competitive pressures that affected Solamet paste.

Industrial Biosciences: Sales edged up 1% to $352 million. Earnings jumped 17% to $63 million on higher pricing and increased demand for biomaterials, partly masked by currency impact.

Nutrition & Health: Sales inched down 1% to $801 million. Operating earnings climbed 21% to $104 million as volumes gains and cost reduction actions more than offset currency impact.

Performance Materials: Sales fell roughly 10% to around $1.2 billion. Operating earnings slipped 14% to $273 million as lower demand for ethylene and ethylene-based products, reduced prices and unfavorable currency impact more than offset cost savings and higher demand in Asia Pacific automotive markets.

Protection Solutions: Sales fell 8% to $729 million. Operating earnings rose 5% to $176 million as cost reductions and improved utilization at the Chambers Works plant more than offset unfavorable currency impact and lower volumes.

DuPont ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $4.2 billion, up around 8% year over year. Total borrowings and capital lease obligations fell around 6% year over year to roughly $9.8 billion.


DuPont bumped up its earnings guidance for 2016. The company now expects operating earnings of $3.05 to $3.20 per share for 2016, up from earlier view of $2.95 to $3.10 per share. It includes expected benefit of 64 cents per share from the company’s 2016 global cost savings and restructuring plan. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the year is $3.01.

Unfavorable currency impact on full-year operating earnings is now expected to be 20 cents per share (down from prior view of 30 cents). Headwinds from a higher base tax rate are expected to be roughly 10 cents per share.  

The guidance takes into account increased corn planted area than earlier expected and the unfavorable impact from Pioneer's switch to an agency-based route-to-market approach in the southern U.S., which will move some sales from 2016 to first-quarter 2017. DuPont also expects operating earnings for first-half 2016 to be roughly flat year over year.

DuPont is taking aggressive cost-cutting actions amid a still challenging backdrop. The company, in Dec 2015, divulged its plans to cut 10% of its global workforce as part of its 2016 cost savings and restructuring program. The 2016 restructuring program, which builds on the company's operational redesign initiative, is expected to deliver cost reductions of $730 million in 2016.

DuPont and Dow Chemical DOW agreed to combine their businesses in Dec 2015 in an all-stock deal to create a chemical titan dubbed “DowDuPont”, before eventually breaking up into three independent companies through tax-free spin-offs.

The planned mega-merger is projected to deliver cost synergies of around $3 billion, expected to be achieved with the first two years after the deal closure. However, the deal (expected to complete in second-half 2016) is expected to face a tough antitrust scrutiny due to competitive concerns given its massive size and scale.

DuPont currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked companies in the diversified chemical space include Akzo Nobel N.V. AKZOY and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. Ltd. SHI, both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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