- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DOVER, DEL. (AP) - Chemical maker DuPont Co. reported a 59 percent drop in first-quarter profit Tuesday, citing a severe decline in global industrial demand.

The Wilmington-based company also cut its full-year outlook and said it is working to cut fixed costs by $1 billion this year, up from an earlier target of $730 million. The company also reduced planned capital expenditures by another $200 million, to $1.4 billion.

For the quarter, DuPont reported earnings of $488 million, or 54 cents per share, down from $1.19 billion, or $1.31 per share, for the corresponding period last year.

Consolidated net sales declined 20 percent to $6.9 billion, with higher local prices unable to offset double-digit volume declines in all regions, including a 31 percent decline in Asia-Pacific volume.

Sales volumes were down in four of the company’s five business platforms, and essentially flat in the agriculture and nutrition unit. DuPont saw a drop in demand from the construction and auto sectors, as well as declines in consumer spending.

Total revenue fell 17 percent to $7.27 billion.

Analysts expected profit of 52 cents per share on revenue of $7.74 billion.

DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said strong performance in the agriculture and nutrition unit, along with cost-cutting measures, helped curb the impact of the largest decline in industrial demand in decades.

“Our teams are working with urgency and agility to stay ahead of the worst global recession since the 1930s,” she said.

DuPont cut its full-year earnings outlook to a range of $1.70 to $2.10 per share, down from a previous forecast for profit of $2 to $2.50 per share.

Analysts expect earnings of $1.88 per share.

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