DuPont Posts Profit as Revenue Jumps 10%

DuPont posted a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday helped by a 12.3 percent jump in revenue, with the chemical maker boosting its earnings forecast for 2010.

The news was well-received by Wall Street, where shares of the Dow Jones industrial average component rose 2.5 percent in premarket trading.

The Wilmington, Delaware-based company saw sales increase in five of its six business units during the period, and said volume — or the physical amount of product sold — jumped globally during the period.

DuPont [DD  32.82  —  UNCH  (0)] makes the building blocks for thousands of common items, such as plastics.

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Its results often offer investors a window into economic health, and on Tuesday the company reaffirmed a previous commitment to increase sales 10 percent over the next three years.

“We remain confident in our performance outlook for 2010, based on improving economic conditions coupled with well-positioned and streamlined businesses,” Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said in a statement.

The company posted earnings of $441 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $629 million, or 70 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items associated with a restructuring plan, DuPont reported earnings of 44 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected profit of 41 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Part of the restructuring charge was associated with DuPont’s plan to cull $1 billion in fixed costs, a goal the company said it reached in 2009.

Revenue rose 10.3 percent to $6.42 billion, exceeding the $6.16 billion analysts had expected. For 2010, DuPont boosted its earnings forecast to a range of $2.15 to $2.45 per share from a prior outlook of $2.10 to $2.40.

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In perhaps a small, positive sign for the broader economy, DuPont’s selling, general and administrative costs jumped during the period, about 7 percent.

Most companies, including DuPont, had relied heavily on cost cuts in 2009 to bolster profits. Shares rose 83 cents to $33.65 in premarket trading.

The stock has traded between $16.05 and $35.62 in the past 52 weeks. DuPont is set to hold a conference call with investors to discuss the results at 9 a.m. EST.

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