DuPont, Freeport McMoRan Bode Well for Earnings
Two very important companies stepped into the earnings spotlight before the market opened on Tuesday. Neither one sorely disappointed or offered any gloomy guidance going forward. If you've been waiting for a correction to buy, the response so far to Tuesday's earnings parade means you may have to wait longer.
E. I. du Pont de Nemours (DD) is the most important of the two. Few seemed surprised when it reported that weakness in its performance chemicals, electronics and communications businesses, combined with costs related to growth initiatives were blamed for a big drop in fourth-quarter income. I guess the drop wasn't bad enough to spark a selloff?
DD reported net income of $111 million, or 12 cents per share, for the last three months of 2012, down 70% from $373 million, or 40 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2011. Revenue came in virtually unchanged from the year-ago period at $7.3 billion, with currency issues and other losers being offset by a 3% gain in global sales.
Sales in Latin America grew 10%, with an 8% volume gain and a 7% increase in local prices. A 6% increase in volume in the Asia-Pacific region was impacted by negative currency and pricing effects. Amazingly, DuPont was still able to beat the consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts of 7 cents per share and total quarterly revenue of $7.2 billion.
DD's fourth-quarter positive outcome was mainly due to its agricultural unit, which saw sales increase 18% to $1.5 billion on 11% higher volumes and 7% higher prices. Full-year sales for the agricultural unit were up 14% to $10.4 billion on 8% higher volume and 6% higher prices. The CEO had upbeat comments and a list of reasons for the lackluster quarter.
"DuPont stands stronger today than it did a year ago. Our segments delivered innovation, productivity and integration cost synergies. This, coupled with a record year in new product introductions, has strengthened our market position," said DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman.
"However, weakness in markets served by Performance Chemicals and Electronics & Communications provided significant challenges in 2012. We've adjusted our plans to meet the changing market environment and grow our businesses in a slow-growth world economy."
On Monday, the company "... declared a first quarter common stock dividend of 43 cents per share payable March 14, 2013, to stockholders of record Feb. 15, 2013. This dividend is the same as what was paid in the fourth quarter 2012. This is the 434th consecutive quarterly dividend since the company's first dividend in the fourth quarter of 1904."