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DuPont’s earnings fall despite rise in seed sales


E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.’s first-quarter earnings fell 59 percent as a severe decline in global industrial demand more than offset a 6 percent sales gain in the company’s agriculture and nutrition division, which includes Johnston-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.

Net income was $488 million, compared with $1.2 billion in first quarter 2008. Consolidated net sales dropped 20 percent to $6.9 billion, with declines in every region of the world and in every business segment except for agriculture and nutrition.

The agriculture and nutrition division had sales of $3.1 billion due to production agriculture price increases and sales gains in North America and Europe.

DuPont increased its 2009 fixed-cost reduction goal to $1 billion from $730 million and will reduce planned capital expenditures by an additional $200 million to $1.4 billion. It expects to approve a plan for additional restructuring actions in the second quarter.

“Our strong first-quarter performance in Agriculture & Nutrition and pharmaceuticals, combined with gains from our pricing discipline and cost and capital reductions, helped offset the impact of the largest decline in industrial demand in decades,” DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said in a release. “As we committed to do in December, we are addressing the more challenging economic conditions with further steps to aggressively manage costs, enhance productivity and operate even more efficiently.”

DuPont also revised its full-year 2009 earnings outlook to a range of $1.70 to $2.10 per share, with the expectation that market conditions will remain difficult except for its global agriculture markets.

The company declared a second-quarter dividend of 41 cents per share, which is unchanged from its first quarter.

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