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After tracking the chemical space for the past few months, I found that DuPont's (NYSE: DD ) superb third-quarter numbers didn't really surprise me. The way the chemical giant has been making its products more expensive did hint at a strong possibility of high revenue growth.
Is the company expected to perform as well going ahead? Let's take a look.
The magic white pigment
The chemical giant must be thanking the stars for being the largest titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer. Sales in the company's largest segment, Performance Chemical, rose 28% from last year in spite of a 1% fall in volumes -- all because of the white pigment TiO2. This segment primarily helped DuPont's sales grow by 32% to $9.2 billion year-on-year.
While revenues from other segments grew as well, fully 15% of the revenue growth was due to higher prices. Volumes, on the other hand, contributed just 1% to top-line growth.
This is all not very surprising, though, given how furiously DuPont has been raising prices for the past few months. This has been the general scene playing out in the chemical industry, and its not just DuPont that's making money from higher prices. Peer Dow Chemical's (NYSE: DOW ) third-quarter sales have also climbed 17%, driven more by high prices than by volumes.
Backed by strong revenues, DuPont's net income came in at $452 million, up 23% from last year.
The price benefit will stay
The benefit from higher prices is not expected to slow down anytime soon, as chemical players are still implementing increases. Both DuPont's and Kronos Worldwide's (NYSE: KRO ) latest increases came into effect this month. Similarly, Huntsman's (NYSE: HUN ) increases announced a week back will be effective next month.
Clearly, these companies are using the handy strategy very well -- pass the buck when you can't handle costs. And I expect DuPont to continue benefiting from this approach in the forthcoming quarters.
The two keys to higher gains
Agriculture and emerging markets are proving to be DuPont's forte. In its third quarter, sales in its Agriculture segment jumped 41% from last year, up 26% and 15% on volumes and prices, respectively. And if we take a look at all the regions, emerging markets stood out. Sales in Latin America rose the highest at 43%. Developing markets now represent almost one-third of DuPont's sales.
After the acquisition of food company Danisco some months back, the share of sales from DuPont's agriculture and nutrition segments is going up. This acquisition is already adding value, as almost 12% of DuPont's third-quarter sales increase was due to the Danisco integration.
Now, with the planting season taking off, demand for DuPont's products is expected to go up in markets like Latin America. The company also recently won the approval for two new important products. Together, agriculture and emerging markets should be significant drivers for DuPont's revenues.
The Foolish bottom line
DuPont's top-line growth is strong, and as I mentioned, the price benefit will remain. Moreover, its core products like TiO2 are flying off the shelves, encouraging the company to make significant investments in expanding its capacity.
I wrote earlier about how strong DuPont is looking as a stock, and I reiterate my views after its strong quarterly performance and full-year earnings guidance upgrade. To make sure you don't miss out on any news and analysis on DuPont, add it to your stock Watchlist.