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DowDuPont Inc.  (NYSE:DWDP)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 02, 2019, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the DowDuPont First Quarter Earnings Call.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Lori Koch. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Lori Koch -- Director-Investor Relations

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us for DowDuPont's First Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. We are making this call available to investors and media via webcast.

We have prepared slides to supplement our comments during this conference call. These slides are posted on the Investor Relations section of DowDuPont's website and through the link to our webcast.

Speaking on the call today are Ed Breen, Chief Executive Officer; Jim Collins and Marc Doyle, Chief Operating Officers for DowDuPont's Agriculture and Specialty Products divisions; and myself and Megan Britt, who will be IR for DuPont and Corteva. In addition, Jean Desmond and Greg Friedman, CFO-elects for DuPont and Corteva will join in the Q&A session.

Please read the forward-looking statement disclaimer contained in the news release and slides. During our call, we will make forward-looking statements regarding our expectations or predictions about the future. Because these statements are based on current assumptions and factors that involve risk and uncertainty, our actual performance and results may differ materially from our forward-looking statements. Our Form 10-K and DuPont's Form 10-K as well as Corteva's Form 10 include detailed discussion of principal risks and uncertainties, which may cause such differences.

Also, we will comment on segment results on a divisional basis, so please take note of the divisional disclaimer in our earnings release and slides.

Unless otherwise specified, all historical financial measures presented today exclude significant items. We will also refer to non-GAAP measures. A reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure and other associated disclosures are contained in our earnings release and on our website.

Before I turn it over to Ed, I'd like to remind you that our comments will be primarily related to the future DuPont and Corteva companies. Dow will be holding their own called starting at 9:00 a.m. this morning.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Lori, and good morning, everyone. Today, we reported the final quarter results for DowDuPont. Our teams aggressively managed the levers within their control to deliver results in line with our revised expectations. They addressed challenges including unprecedented bad weather, currency fluctuations and macro factors driving difficult conditions in select markets. This demonstrates the ability of each of our businesses to respond effectively to challenges due to their market alignment, rigorous cost control and emphasis on innovative products that enable disciplined pricing and margin expansion.

Our teams also stayed focused on our longer-term goals and accomplished several important milestones in the quarter. We completed the first phase of our commitment to create 3 transformative companies, each leaders in the markets they serve. As you know, we spun the Dow business on April 1, and they are off to a great start. And we are in the final phases of the separation of DuPont and Corteva. We have finalized all the board seats for both Dow and DuPont and have one remaining spot to fill for Corteva. Their respective boards provide them with a strong and diverse set of members that will ensure a continued dedication to driving high returns. Over the next few weeks, we intend to complete the final milestones leading up to the June 1 separation including filing the final Form 10 for Corteva and holding a shareholder meeting to approve a reverse split of DowDuPont shares.

Additionally, we completed the $3 billion share buyback program bringing the total share buyback under DowDuPont to $7 billion.

I am truly amazed when I think back on what has been accomplished and the value that stands to be created from these leading organizations. Each one has demonstrated a shareholder value mindset. I couldn't be more excited about the future of these 3 companies, and I look forward to their ability to continue to deliver against their commitments and drive shareholder returns.

Moving to Slide 3, I'll now touch on the first quarter results and my view of the macro environment before turning it over to Mark to discuss the results for new DuPont. For total DowDuPont, we delivered revenue of $19.6 billion, down 9% versus prior year and adjusted EPS of $0.84 year-over-year decline of 25% driven primarily by margin pressure in the Dow business, weather-related impacts in Corteva and the effects of slowing auto and smartphone markets in DuPont, which more than offset the benefits of cost synergies and pricing strength in DuPont and Corteva.

We continue to have confidence that the global economy will grow in 2019, albeit at a slower pace than 2018. Regionally, we continue to keep an eye on all markets, but are keeping a closer watch on China and Europe. China has started to stimulate, which should help increase their consumer spending and spur the recovery expected in the second half in addition to unexpected tariff resolution. We are also encouraged by the increase in consumer lending. Additionally, the large export market from Europe into China, any green shoots should induce favorable economic activity in Europe.

In agriculture, we expect to overcome the weather-related effects of reduced planted acres, acreage shifts and continued delays in the start of the planting season through our focus on higher sales of new and high-value products, accelerated cost synergy delivery and continuous productivity efforts.

Each new company will be benchmarking against best-in-class peers. After working closely with these teams over the past 3 years, I am confident that you can expect them to manage aggressively to deliver against those targets.

With that, I'll now turn it over to Marc.

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Thanks, Ed. Turning to Slide 4. Heading into the quarter, we spoke about the weakness we were seeing in about 25% of our portfolio primarily encompassing our auto and smartphone businesses. In general, these markets performed as we expected. The rest of our portfolio in total was also in line with expectations with stronger results in our industrial businesses within Safety & Construction offsetting weakness in North America energy markets, negatively impacting our Industrial Biosciences business. All in, I'm pleased with how the businesses are navigating this period of soft demand and inventory destocking in a few of our end markets with a commitment to staying focused on the levers within our control specifically price, aggressive cost management as well as plant productivity actions, which are starting to show up in our results.

Our emphasis on value-added innovation supported continued disciplined pricing actions. Together with our diverse portfolio, this enabled us to meet our sales commitment for the quarter and exceed our expectations on earnings driving a 3% increase in the quarter excluding currency. We continued to deliver on our synergy plans to enable sustained earnings growth and strong operating leverage. As anticipated, we did see raw material and freight cost headwinds in the quarter, primarily from escalation in 2018, which we were mostly able to offset with pricing gains. These actions enabled us to expand gross margins by 20 basis points and operating EBITDA margins by 90 basis points, bringing our operating EBITDA margin to 30% for the quarter.

Turning now to the segments on Slide 5. Let me begin with Electronics & Imaging. Organic sales declined 6% driven primarily by soft smartphone demand and destocking, which impacted both interconnect solutions and Semiconductor Technologies, and by lower sales in photovoltaics. In total, smartphones comprise approximately 25% of E&I sales. And while we sell to all smartphone providers, our portfolio is more exposed to premium models, which are anticipated to have declined in the high teens for the quarter. We continue to expect a rebound in the second half driven by the seasonal introduction of new models with upgraded features and offerings, including higher penetration of OLED screens and initial models with 5G capability, both benefiting our sales.

We anticipate lapping the PV weakness this quarter resulting from the May 2018 reduction of China FIT incentives. Photovoltaic sales comprise approximately 15% of the segment.

A bright spot in the portfolio continues to be Display Technologies, which again posted double-digit volume growth driven by strong demand in China for OLED materials.

Operating EBITDA for the segment decreased 3% from the year ago period as a gain on an asset sale and cost synergies were more than offset by lower volumes, higher raw material and freight costs and lower equity affiliate income.

Moving to Nutrition & Biosciences. Organic sales were flat as a 2% gain in local price was offset by volume declines of 2%. Our Nutrition & Health business continues to perform well with organic growth in line with our medium-term expectations of 3% to 5%. This portfolio of businesses in the food and beverage, health and pharma end markets addresses several strong mega trends including healthy living as well as a growing and aging population. Our probiotics expansion is complete with the additional capacity now online, which will support the double-digit probiotics growth we expect for the year.

Demand for our Industrial Biosciences products was down in the quarter, primarily driven by a challenging North America energy market impacting both bioethanol enzyme sales and microbial control, which comprise approximately 25% of IB sales.

Operating EBITDA for the segment was down 7% versus prior year as cost synergies, higher local price and increased volume in N&H was more than offset by lower IB volumes, higher raw material costs and currency headwinds.

Within Transportation & Advanced Polymers, organic sales were down 2% from the year ago period with growth in the U.S. and Canada and EMEA being more than offset by declines in Asia Pacific, primarily in China. We continue to feel the effects of lower auto builds and inventory destocking and expect a similar environment in 2Q.

Beyond automotive, segment sales were also impacted by weakness in the electronic space, which accounts for nearly 20% of T&AP's revenue. Despite our expectations of sequential flat volumes in 2Q, we anticipate a stronger recovery will take place in the second half of the year. Lower inventory levels and an expected tariff resolution paired with China stimulus packages are potential catalysts to reignite growth. Looking ahead, we continue to be excited about the longer-term growth opportunity from light-weighting and the electrification of vehicles, and our portfolio is well positioned to deliver the second half growth as markets recover.

I continue to be very pleased with the pricing strength in our T&AP portfolio, which has enabled us to minimize the earnings impact of the market-driven volume declines we have been experiencing. Local price increased 7% and improved in all regions led by Asia Pacific and EMEA.

Operating EBITDA for the segment was down 5% as higher local price and cost synergies were more than offset by lower volume, higher raw material costs and currency headwinds.

Safety & Construction organic sales for the quarter increased 8% driven equally by local price gains and higher volumes on broad-based demand. Volume gains of 4% were driven by continued strength across industrial, life and personal protection and medical end markets. These gains resulted in stronger growth in the Water Solutions business, Tyvek protective garments and Kevlar high-strength materials, which more than offset continued softness in North America residential construction demand. Volume increased in all regions.

This was the fourth consecutive quarter of mid- to upper single-digit organic growth for the business. Over the same period, the Safety & Construction segment has improved operating EBITDA margins nearly 400 basis points driven by strong volume and price growth on the top line, synergy delivery, manufacturing productivity as well as portfolio actions, which alone have lifted the operating EBITDA margins of the segment by nearly 100 basis points.

Operating EBITDA for the segment was up 16% from the year ago period as cost synergies, higher local price and increased volumes more than offset raw material and currency headwinds.

Moving to Slide 6, we have been very transparent about our intent to divest about 10% of our current portfolio and have made great progress already on that front. This aspect of our commitment to aggressive portfolio management allows us to remain focused on aligning our portfolio with attractive high-growth market opportunities. Consistent with this, today we are announcing the creation of a new external non-core reporting segment, which will include the following businesses: photovoltaics and Advanced Materials, including the Hemlock joint venture; Clean Technologies; biomaterials; the DuPont Teijin Films joint venture; and Sustainable Solutions.

As you may recall, Sustainable Solutions and Teijin Films were previously identified for sale. We will consider the full range of strategic options for these businesses with the best interest of shareholders and key stakeholders in mind. We're confident that this new structure will enable us to intensify the impact of our innovation on growth while also bringing more visibility to the underlying performance of our core businesses.

This new segment accounts for about $2 billion of revenue and $0.5 billion of operating EBITDA in 2019. For financial reporting purposes, the new segment will be effective as of Q2 2019 and pro forma financial information will be available in June.

Turning to Slide 7. Earlier, Ed provided a perspective on our view of macroeconomic conditions for the balance of the year. Let me give some additional color on what that means for our second quarter and full year guidance.

For the coming quarter, we expect market conditions to be consistent with what we saw in the first quarter. However, we have now started to lap the price increases we have been driving in T&AP, and therefore, don't expect as favorable pricing year-over-year in that segment.

For specialty products in the quarter, we expect net sales and operating EBITDA each to be down mid-single digits and low single digits excluding currency and portfolio impacts, a result similar to the first quarter if you exclude the assets sale within the E&I segment.

When we entered the year, we expected the impact of inventory destocking in the auto and smartphone markets to play out over the first half. Given this dynamic and our commitment to delivering strong earnings leverage on sales, we've taken an aggressive stance to controlling our spending. This enabled stronger operating EBITDA performance as compared to our top line results in the first quarter. We expect the same for the second quarter. This internal commitment to cost control will set us up well when our end markets rebound.

Turning to the second half. Third-party market data for auto builds and smartphone sales continues to point to a rebound resulting in global auto build growth of 4% and global smartphone shipments of up 2%. We believe we're well-positioned to capitalize on this recovery, and today we're confirming our full year guidance of up 2% to 3% for organic top line growth and up 3% to 5% for adjusted operating EBITDA.

In the appendix, we're providing segment-level sales and operating EBITDA guidance. It's important to note that this guidance is on an as-is division level reporting basis and does not reflect our stand-alone reporting structure including the new non-core segment or the additional costs that we intend to include in the segments as a stand-alone company. We'll provide more details of our 2019 stand-alone guidance in June, shortly after the separation of Corteva.

With that, I'll turn it over to Jim.

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Thanks, Marc. Turning to Slide 8. Net sales decreased 11% as lower volume and unfavorable currency more than offset local price improvement. First quarter volume was impacted by severe weather-related conditions in significant growing regions in the United States. March flooding in the Midwestern U.S. and generally cool wet conditions in the region overall disrupted farming operations delaying U.S. seed deliveries into second quarter and preventing early season crop protection applications.

Daily U.S. seed deliveries for late March into April are illustrated in the chart in the bottom right-hand corner. As we reported in the April 18 announcement, less than 50% of the planned seed deliveries in the last 5 days of the quarter occurred resulting in a greater-than-anticipated weather impact on the first quarter performance.

Now this chart also shows that U.S. corn seed deliveries are now back on track with the 2018 pace. And remember, our business model of direct delivery to farmers means we recognize most of our revenue when we deliver to the grower, not when shipped to a retailer or distributor like our competitors.

Operating EBITDA decreased 25% for the quarter driven by the weather-related volume declines, higher input costs and currency headwinds, which more than offset cost synergies.

So turning to Slide 9. You can clearly see the effect of weather on the U.S. Corn Belt. However, you can also see that we are driving growth elsewhere.

Our teams in Europe, Middle East and Africa delivered organic growth of 8% showing growth in both Crop Protection and Seeds. Crop Protection new products such as Zorvec fungicides, Arylex herbicides are being well received by farmers in the region, coupled with strong growth in other insecticides such as the Spinosyns and Isoclasts. Our seed business also drove strong corn volumes across the region.

Latin America delivered organic growth of 7% led by Crop Protection. Seed volumes in Latin America were lower due to the early start to the safrinha season, moving seed sales from the first quarter of 2019 into the fourth quarter of 2018. However, we are seeing our market share grow as a result of the introduction of our new Brevant seed brand into the retail channel as well as the growth in our direct channel. Crop Protection in Latin America delivered growth of 12% and organic growth of 23% led by insecticides.

Asia Pacific delivered organic growth of 14%. Strong growth in seed was coupled with Crop Protection solutions, insecticides like Spinosyns and Pyraxalt. Warm weather also enabled seed growth with strong corn sales in Asia Pacific in the first quarter.

Now outside of the Corn Belt within the United States, we continue to expect growth. For example, we executed a change in route to market in the Pacific Northwest from just retail and distribution to add our direct-to-farmer model. This shifted seed deliveries into the second quarter, but we expect to drive overall volume growth for the half. Our brand rationalization implementation is also on plan with customer retention rates higher than we anticipated. With a more focused brand approach throughout the U.S., we are poised for growth.

We expect much of the first quarter volumes to shift into the second quarter. The USDA planted area expectations indicate that corn will be up 4%. However, this estimate preceded the most significant weather events, and we could see some reductions. Our guidance also accounts for an expected compressed planting window. So there is a risk that, that acreage will shift into less profitable crops including shorter maturity corn.

Turning to Slide 10. These challenges will result in a lower first half with our operating EBITDA guidance 3% to 5% lower in the same period last year. However, with solid growth in the other areas of the United States as well as Canada coupled with the growth we are seeing in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, we expect to exceed our original expectations for sales in the second half. In addition, we are accelerating synergies and have taken incremental productivity actions to reduce costs. This gives me confidence to maintain our full year guidance of about $2.8 billion.

We are delivering on everything we can control and anticipating and reacting quickly to market conditions outside of our control. We continue to execute on our plan to create shareholder value.

We will continue to talk more about our plan including instilling a culture of continuous productivity, continuing to drive toward a best-in-class cost structure.

Our proof points that our strategy is working include: first, we are delivering innovative market-driven solutions proven by strong demand for our insecticides in Asia Pacific and execution of our Enlist licensing agreements. Next, we are delivering above market growth as illustrated by our market share gains in corn in Latin America. And third, we are delivering above market growth through our unique routes to market delivering our innovative solutions through expanded, unique channels with our Pioneer brand as well as our new Brevant brand.

I can feel the excitement in our team to launch Corteva Agriscience on June 1, a pure play independent Ag company. Corteva is well positioned to drive above market growth through its industry-leading product pipeline and its rigorous approach to innovation and operating discipline.

So I'll now turn it over to Megan to open up the Q&A.

Megan Britt -- Investor Relation-DuPont and Corteva

Thank you, Jim. With that, let's move on to your questions. First, I would like to remind you that our forward-looking statements apply to both our prepared remarks and the following Q&A.

Operator, please provide the Q&A instructions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question is from Vincent Andrews with Morgan Stanley.

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you and good morning, everyone. Ed or Marc, could you clarify within DuPont what your expectations are in the second half in terms of a tariff resolution and how reliant your forecast is on the timing of that as well as improvement in the Chinese economy spilling over into improvement in the EU economy? Just some fence posts around what's in the back half number so that we can follow along would be helpful.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Vincent, probably just a few points at things we've been watching. Tariff obviously would be nice to resolve that, which would play out very nicely over the next few years for us in China because I'm a big believer that consumer confidence was hit pretty bad by that issue. That was one of the issues. But we've been tracking -- the areas that we were weak in our portfolio were smartphones and auto builds mainly China-related, which is about 20% of the portfolio. And we've been tracking the inventory levels and all very closely through the OEMs and all that in China, and we've seen a very drastic drop in inventory levels in China, almost back to normal levels. Not quite yet, but almost there. So we've been going through this destocking phase, and we're seeing that normalized to where it should be. So I think that will play out still through the second quarter. We'll still be kind of flat. We should -- as we're exiting the second quarter, I would think by what we're seeing from an inventory standpoint, that will pick up.

And by the way, I don't look at all third parties and believe the data, but it looks like auto builds will grow in the second half globally a little bit and the smartphones will grow a couple percent. Also the interesting thing when you look at our European numbers just to give you another data point, the weakness that we have in Europe is almost all related to the weakness in China. So as China improves, I think our numbers specifically in Germany and all because of autos and all that will also improve. So that's the data points we're looking at. If the tariffs resolve, I think consumer confidence builds. But look, the other things in China, I think, importantly, they eased up on some lending standards over the last few months. There looks like there might be a stimulus just related to auto that is coming along in the near future, and obviously there's been a lot of stimulus besides the lending standards being. So I think a lot of things have happened. We're going to start seeing it in the second half of the year, and we'll get some recovery there.

And by the way, just to give you a perspective, 75% of our portfolio is just running along, just like it has the last few years. All the industrial businesses performed well, you can see it in our S&C numbers. Nutrition & Health performing exactly where we thought it would. So it's really this isolated issue to China. And the green shoots look like they're now -- there are tariffs would certainly help that.

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

And Jim, if I could ask you on African swine flu, maybe it's too early for there to be material impact, but how do you see that playing out for Corteva over the coming quarters and next year?

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Yes. Great, Vincent. We are watching that very, very closely. In addition to some of the trade issues you were asking Ed about, clearly, the flow of green and anything that affects demand for that green will put downward pressure on commodity prices. So anything that will cause this glut of soybeans to take maybe more than 1 or 2 years to accelerate will kind of -- will pull back on soy prices.

For us, we'll watch it. We'll see what it will have an effect on corn prices. And longer term, 2020 plus, it could be a little bit positive for us as we see some acreage shift out of soy and move back toward corn. So yes, we're watching that. I think for the U.S. hog producer, you're already seeing a response in hog prices as the global demand for hog shipments. Meat shipments is going up, and that could help at farm level. A lot of the growers we deal with or integrated growers, they're producing corn and beans. They have either a whole hog or cattle operations. And so anything that could help net farm income would be a positive for the U.S. grower, and we don't see much of an impact in China as a lot of the feed for those animals is imported from either Latin America or U.S.

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thanks so much.

Operator

Our next question comes from -- with JPMorgan, Jeff Zekauskas.

Jeff Zekauskas -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Thanks very much. The specialty products company will be a new company in June, and you've got 4 primary segments. So if you had acquisitions that were equally attractive, but you could only do 1, in which division would you do it? That is what's the essence of Specialty Products? Or which 2 divisions are the essence of it? And which ones are more peripheral?

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Yes. Jeff, it's Marc. I'll take that one, and Ed can follow on. I mean for us, with respect to M&A, I mean we've said that we want to be real cautious with respect to ROIC and we're looking for at most sort of bolt-on strategic acquisition. So it's really about the strategic connection to the growth themes that are -- that really cut across the portfolio spaces like microbiome, probiotics, automotive electrification. Those types of heavy growth sort of secular growth areas would be where we'd be looking for bolt-on capabilities. It's not so much one or the other of the reporting segments that we tend to follow on. But I'd say the bottom line is we're looking to be making really good investment decisions with respect to our cash, and so it would have to be a really nice deal in terms of strategic fit and financial returns for us to jump.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I mean the only thing I would add to that Marc there, we're looking where is the secular growth trends, as Marc said. And we're looking at that more than we are, which business it would be. We want a higher growth area. But what I would add what Marc and I and Jean and the team have been really looking at is when we do an acquisition, we really want the returns to work on the cost synergies we would get on the deal even though we're strategically buying it for the growth of secular opportunity. And the growth part would be our truly upside to the modeling. We would do it when we present it to our Board of Directors. So I'm a big believer, make the numbers work on the cost synergies, but totally within our control. And we'll get the upside by doing the right thing strategically on the growth side.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) We'll move to our next caller, David Begleiter with Deutsche Bank.

David Begleiter -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning. Ed, on the non-core segment, what is the time line for realizing this -- the value of these businesses? And how would you expect to use the proceeds from any asset sales that might occur here?

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

All right. Look, I make a couple of points on it. Number one, we're not in any fire sale mode here. We're going to take our time. We're going to do the right thing for our shareholders. These are good assets. I would say, if I just gave you one word the way I feel about, there are more volatile assets than I would want in our portfolio. So Marc and the team have really gone through that. That's not the only reason, by the way, but I'd -- they are really volatile, but they're great businesses for some of those. So we want to get the right price out of them. I hope we make a lot of progress over the next year, but I will give you an example. It's not totally clean to just do it all right away and one of them would be the Hemlock JV, just to give you an example, because we have partners there. So we got to work our way through some -- interesting issues they are, but we will move expeditiously, but get the right price and make sure we take our time so nothing has to happen overnight. But I would add, what's key to it is these businesses are going to actually have more focus on them because we put a very senior talented gentleman, Jon Kemp, in charge of them with the right finance leaders and all going to really focus on driving up the returns of this business during this interim period. So I'm really happy we've got that focus on these businesses.

Jeanmarie F. Desmond -- Chief Financial Officer

And I guess, in terms of proceeds, I would say we would really be in line with our financial policy. So we've talked about that before. We're going to fund the internal investment. We'll do bolt-on M&A where it makes sense. And otherwise, we're going to return cash to shareholders.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, we're not going to sit on cash for a long period of time if we have it.

Operator

Our next question comes from Steve Byrne with Bank of America.

Steve Byrne -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Hi. Thank you. Just what was the 2018 EBITDA of that $2 billion of sales is now a non-core? And perhaps, Marc, you could comment on whether you're seeing any traction yet on the revenue side or market share side in your segments from -- having a much more diverse product portfolio now than you had as a legacy DuPont platform?

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Yes, thanks, Steve. Just to answer the question on the earnings. It was about 700 roundabout last year, and the delta there is really the Hemlock equity earnings and the big settlement that we had last year in the Hemlock JV. And so that's where we get to about 500 this year. In terms of traction on the revenue side, we are continuing to drive the growth synergies that we talked about a couple of times now across the portfolio. And I'd say it's a little early to quantify it, but I do think it's making a material difference. We ran into the downturn here in the automotive and electronics markets, and I think we mitigated a lot of that because, as I said earlier, the rest of the portfolio has continued to perform well. And so versus maybe previous market downturns, I think we're managing the cycles a little bit better now. But hopefully, we'll tell you a little bit more about some of the areas of new growth as we go forward.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

I think also, Steve, just to Marc's point, I -- we're very focused on the things we can control in that P&L. And I think this quarter with basically 0 organic growth, we had plus 3% on price, minus 3% on volumes, so we kind of came out 0 on organic, we had the leverage we wanted through the P&L. I mean our gross margins were up 20 basis points. Our EBITDA margins were up 90 basis points. So I think as a management team they did a nice job performing in a little bit of a tougher revenue environment, which we know we're going to come out of here in another quarter.

Operator

And from Bernstein, we'll hear from Jonas Oxgaard.

Jonas Oxgaard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Good morning guys.

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning Jonas.

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Hi, Jonas.

Jonas Oxgaard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

So in Q4 earnings, you've guided the specialty earnings down mid-single-digits -- sorry, mid-single percent, now you have flat. So my math says that's about a $50 million improvement, what we used to think. Most of your -- or most of the other companies in the space, they've reported that the quarter seemed to improve in March, which seems to fit with your experience here. But you're leaving the annual guidance unchanged and second guidance it's about same as first. So how should I line these 2, it feels like opposite statements?

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Well, Jonas, let me just high level. I mean we beat the number that we guided to by literally $25 million. I think you guys, on average, were a little -- the gap was a little bit bigger, $70 million, $80 million or somewhere in that ZIP code. And it's on a $6 billion base, so there's no reason for us to change anything at this point in time. We feel like we had a solid quarter again relative to the revenue softness that we had, and we'll see how we perform through the second quarter. We did guide flat. And we're expecting to see signs as we go through the second quarter that we'll start to see some orders on the smartphone side and on the auto side start to pick up to help us in the third and fourth quarter again. We're tracking inventory levels. We're watching all that. So I mean, I hate to say this, to me, it's a rounding error at this point. I wouldn't change the guidance that we gave for the year.

Operator

And next, we'll hear from Christopher Parkinson with Credit Suisse.

Christopher Parkinson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thank you. So just as attention to Jeff's question, what are the 2 to 3 other primary platforms you plan to organically invest in? Just can you just rebrief us on the key secular themes that you find particularly attractive? And then, obviously, you've already added probiotic capacity in some of the subcomponents of N&H -- or N&B, excuse me, but what are the other key opportunities which state your future targeted profile in these businesses?

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Yes. It's Marc. I'll take that, Chris. I mean there's a couple of big themes. The big themes are, as you said, sort of probiotics, microbiome. We've talked about pretty well in terms of the investments we've made there, and we're looking at both capital investments, significant R&D investments. We announced the partnership with Lonza around the HMO space, which is a prebiotic. We're continuing to make some majority equity investments and start-ups. We've got some university partnerships we talked about last quarter. So a lot of activity around that whole space.

Auto electrification, I'd say the broader space of smart everything, smart homes, as an example, smart cities, industrial electrification is a big area, which connects a couple of our industrial businesses. In fact, it kind of connects T&AP with E&I and with S&C. And we're making there, both capital investments and products. We announced this past quarter an investment Kapton capacity, which is playing into 5G, which is the connectivity space. And we're making a significant R&D investment. We announced the opening of another innovation center last quarter to in that space.

And then the only other area I'd mentioned is we do like the medical devices, healthcare space and its smaller for us in terms of the total revenue impact. If you think of probiotics, microbiome as several hundred million dollars. And if you think of the auto electrification, it's closing in on $1 billion. Health and medical is less than $0.5 billion, but we see that as an attractive space.

Maybe one more thing I'll mention also is our water segment, which is Reverse Osmosis membranes and Ion Exchange Resins and microfiltration, and that segment was up about mid-teens here in the first quarter. We've made a number of incremental capacity expansions there, and so we're doubling down there on our production capability around the world. We had to open up the RO new facility in Saudi Arabia in Sadara last year, and we're seeing really good long-term growth dynamics in the whole water sort of environmental cleanup space. So those are some of the biggest names.

Operator

And next from Citi, we'll hear from P.J. Juvekar.

P.J. Juvekar -- Citi -- Analyst

Yes. Hi. Good morning.

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Good morning, P.J.

P.J. Juvekar -- Citi -- Analyst

Your seed pricing was flat in the U.S. and it was up everywhere else. That was better than last couple of years when your competitors were going for market share. So can you tell us what has happened to sort of the competitive dynamic on price versus volume in seeds?

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Thanks, P.J. So you're right, focusing that pricing first on North America and particularly in the U.S., I'd just really start with just the tough farm environment. We've talked about low net farm income, and we're out pricing our products for the value that they deliver. We're also responsive to the market environment that we're out there pricing into. So we went out with kind of a flat pricing card. And as always, in any competitive market, there's lots of challenges and it's a lot of competition out there. But we feel good about where we're sitting right now today, and it's kind of showing up in our results. Now we see a mix effect as our new products really do drive a higher mix where we are pricing for that extra yield and sharing some of that back with the grower. At the same time, you do have these competitive challenges. You highlighted the rest of the world in places like Latin America and Asia, we've done a really nice job of pricing out ahead of the currency effects that we see in those markets. So we essentially covered currency in Asia, and we're about to cover it in Latin America. So I feel good about the way the teams are executing there. The euro was just such a huge drag. We weren't really able to catch that at this point because a lot of the other competitors are pricing in local currency there as well. But you step back from that, we feel good about share in all of these markets. And so yes, I think you called it pretty well. It's pretty isolated, flattish in North America, it's mostly seed and it's related to the market that we're operating at.

Operator

And our next question comes from Frank Mitsch with Fermium Research.

Frank Mitsch -- Fermium Research -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning folks. Mr. Collins, long time no see. As I look at -- I like the Slide #8, and you show us how the corn seeds are tracking right on top of 2018 for 2Q. And if I look at your first half guidance, there is an expectation that net sales and EBITDA are going to grow kind of mid-single digits, maybe even a little bit better on the EBITDA side. So corn seed is kind of in line with 2018. How should we think about the drivers to get to the increase year-over-year for Corteva?

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Yes. Frank, thanks. So you're right, it's where kind of projecting out through the full year that second half already had a pretty strong plan. We had about $200 million of -- greater than $200 million of EBITDA growth already baked into that plan. That's that new product pipeline that we've been talking about. But also the synergy flow-through and things like Arylex zero herbicides had a great start globally, Vessarya and Asian soy rust in Brazil and Zorvec fungicides, both continue to just be stellar. And then as we're now really beginning to see the effects of both Isoclast on the insecticides and Lumisena on seed treatments. So as we think about now that new view in the second half, the new guidance really only adds about $80 million of additional EBITDA, and that's partly due to this pipeline again coming in even better than we have in the original plan. And that's a couple of additional star players, Rinskor in rice, which is a heavy second half Asia Pacific piece; and Pyraxalt, which is that brown plant hopper product that we've been talking about. It's really showing now nice growth ahead of the plan, and that's a very Asia Pacific rice-oriented product.

And then we're seeing some pricing opportunities. We have a few products that are incredibly high demand and really we're having trouble supplying all the demand for those, so we're taking a fresh look at the pricing there for the value that we're delivering. And then some of our synergies that we've been really looking at, finding a way to accelerate those synergies out of 2020 into the second half of 2019, and that's helping contribute to that upside in EBITDA.

And then finally, I'll just say, look, in these market environments, we're always looking for ways to take additional productivity actions and kind of just tighten up the ship in light of the markets that our customers are operating in and just be right with that. So you add all those things together, I'm actually quite -- I feel really good about the plan that we've laid out to add this additional and close that gap and be able to confirm about $2.8 billion full year that we're talking about.

Operator

We'll take our final question from John Roberts with UBS.

John Roberts -- UBS -- Analyst

Thank you. Back on the Hemlock Semiconductor JV, do you expect any onetime income later in 2019? And does the JV have any put call divorce clauses to allow you to either buy out your partners or force them to buy you out if they won't sell?

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

Well, this is Marc. Let me take the first one. Yes, we do expect another onetimer, and we've got to build into the full year outlook. Not exactly sure at this point when it will land, but it will be in the second half. And then in terms of the clauses around the JV definitive agreement, we're going to have to get back to you on that one.

Jeanmarie F. Desmond -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay. With that, I think we're going to end. Thank you, everyone, for joining our call. We appreciate your interest in DowDuPont. For your reference, a copy of our transcript will be posted on DowDuPont's website. This concludes our call.

Operator

And this concludes today's conference. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 47 minutes

Call participants:

Lori Koch -- Director-Investor Relations

Edward D. Breen -- Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Marc Doyle -- Chief Operating Officer, Specialty Products Division

James C. Collins, Jr. -- Chief Operating Officer, Agriculture Division

Megan Britt -- Investor Relation-DuPont and Corteva

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Jeff Zekauskas -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

David Begleiter -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Jeanmarie F. Desmond -- Chief Financial Officer

Steve Byrne -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Jonas Oxgaard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Christopher Parkinson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

P.J. Juvekar -- Citi -- Analyst

Frank Mitsch -- Fermium Research -- Analyst

John Roberts -- UBS -- Analyst

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