Is Now the Time to Buy DuPont Stock?

This article was updated on Oct 24, 2014.

DuPont's (NYSE: DD  )  stock price has more than doubled over the past five years. That's well ahead of the market's gains over that same time frame, as we can see in the following chart.

DD Chart

DD data by YCharts

However, the reason DuPont's stock has beaten the market isn't so much due to the company's performance as it is to the company's future potential. Through the first half of 2014 DuPont's sales and its earnings are both down from 2013 as we see in the following slide. 

Source: DuPont Investor Presentation. 

However, DuPont has been enhancing its portfolio to pursue growth opportunities that create higher value. That transition has seen the company add a number of new business lines and products. Through this transition DuPont has become more focused on science and innovation, which yields higher margins, while exiting a lower-margin commodity business like performance coatings.

This is part of a transition that has the company maximizing its business portfolio around its purpose to be a science company. DuPont's strategy is to build and leverage its science lead in three specific focus areas: agriculture and nutrition, bio-based industrials, and advanced materials. Over the past four years these new segments have delivered over $10 billion in new product revenue for the company. That focus on science and development is expected to yield strong long-term growth in the years ahead, as noted on the following slide:

Source: DuPont Investor Presentation 

DuPont has set long-term targets to grow its sales by 7% each year while its operating earnings are expected to grow by a 12% annual clip. That's pretty solid growth and shows how good the company is at turning its innovation into returns.

That being said, if there is a problem with DuPont, it's with the company's stock price. With a price-to-earnings ratio of around 22, it's hard to call the company a value stock. Further, investors are paying nearly twice the earnings growth rate for the company as measured by its PEG ratio of 2.02. That's a pretty high-end multiple, especially for a company like DuPont. When we compare it to some of its peers we see that DuPont is trading at a real premium. Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW  ) , for example, is cheaper with a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.5 times and a PEG ratio of 1.75 times. Even Monsanto (NYSE: MON  ) sells for a cheaper valuation. Its price to earnings ratio is 19 while its PEG ratio is 1.53. So, we can get the same exposure to agriculture, in this case, at a much cheaper valuation than what's currently offered by DuPont's stock.     

DuPont has a solid foundation as its science-based approach is expected to deliver strong revenue and earnings growth over the next few years. However, I just don't see that being a compelling enough reason to buy the stock at today's price. It is just too high a premium, and any bump in the road could cause DuPont's stock to reverse course. 

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