DuPont, the biggest U.S. chemical maker by market value, reported fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates as demand climbed for plastics used in autos.
Profit was 11 cents a share after excluding costs to settle claims that an herbicide killed trees and other one-time items, Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont said Tuesday in a statement. The earnings beat the 7-cent average of 10 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales were little changed at $7.33 billion, compared with the $7.25 billion average of 15 estimates.
Adjusted profit in 2013 will be $3.85 to $4.05 a share, an increase of 2 percent to 7 percent from comparable 2012 earnings of $3.77, DuPont said. The company said last month that earnings would increase by "low- to mid-single digits," and the average of 13 estimates was for profit of $3.93.
"You are seeing a rebound in autos and housing," Mark Gulley, a New York-based analyst at BGC Partners LP who recommends buying DuPont shares, said Tuesday by phone.
"Strong demand" from North American automakers helped boost pretax operating profit 68 percent in the performance- materials unit, which makes engineered plastics for car parts, DuPont said.
The 2013 forecast assumes global economic growth of about 2 percent and 5 percent higher costs for raw materials, energy and transportation, primarily because of higher seed making costs, the company said. Capital spending will rise to about $1.9 billion this year, from $1.8 billion in 2012, DuPont said.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman announced 1,500 job cuts in October as a weak global economy challenges her target for annual earnings growth of 12 percent. Net income fell 70 percent to $111 million, or 12 cents a share, from $373 million, or 40 cents, a year earlier.
First-quarter pretax operating profit will drop in three segments, led by a "significant" decline in the electronics unit, while industrial biosciences will lead gains in three other segments, DuPont said in a slide presentation on its website.