Here's a simple math question: When two companies agree to merge, how many companies will be left following the transaction? If you're Dow Chemical and DuPont, then the answer is three.

Well, OK, technically the answer is one, as in the newly formed DowDuPont (DD 0.04%). But by the end of the first half of 2019, DowDuPont will cease to exist. Instead, it will break itself apart by spinning off three new publicly traded companies: one for materials science, one for specialty products, and one for agriculture.

What exactly will each company own? What should investors expect between now and then? Let's take a look.

Someone staring down at their feet with arrows drawn all over the floor.

Image source: Getty Images.

Portfolio realignment timeline

Splitting into three separate companies was the plan all along, which is what allowed the DowDuPont megamerger to gain regulatory approval in the first place. It's a smart move for multiple reasons.

For instance, it'll immediately create three global leaders in their respective industries. It's projected to save $3.3 billion in cost synergies (although those rarely work out). And it'll also provide some relief for investors who conduct their due diligence. After all, if you've read through any of the combined company's SEC filings, then you've probably groaned over the fact that eight segments currently contribute to operations.

On the fourth-quarter 2017 conference call, management at DowDuPont provided an updated road map for what to expect between now and mid-2019. When coupled with the initial portfolio review from September 2017 -- and a revision or two announced since -- it gives investors a decent amount of clarity into the next 18 months or so.

In the first half of 2018, DowDuPont will finalize the division of assets and liabilities among the three spinoff companies. More paperwork will follow in the second half of 2018, including the initial filing of Forms 10, which will provide more details about the number of shares to be registered for each new entity. 

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Image source: Getty Images.

Things will get really interesting in early 2019. The management teams for each spinoff company will conduct road shows to drum up interest, explain their plans for value creation, and show off to the world for the first time. By the end of the first quarter of 2019, the materials science company will be spun off. It will retain the name Dow Chemical. By June 1 of next year, the agriculture company will be spun off under a new name. The remaining assets will become the specialty products company, which likely will be rebranded under a new name as well.

So, what will each company offer?

SpinCos' division of assets

DowDuPont is a $170 billion company that posted over $62 billion in revenue in 2017. While sales won't be divided into equal thirds, each new company will begin its life as an industry leader. It also stands to reason that the combined market value of the three companies could exceed $170 billion. The exact division of assets won't be finalized until this summer, but investors have a general idea of how things will shake out.  

Metric or Attribute

Materials Science


Specialty Products

Estimated annual sales

$40 billion

$14 billion

$21 billion

Operating margin




Major assets and products

Numerous commodity chemicals and polymers

Crop protection, seeds and traits

Electronics, transportation polymers, safety and construction, biosciences

Major growth opportunities

Packaging, infrastructure, consumer care

Digital ag, next-generation biotech traits

Photovoltaics, synthetic biology

Data source: DowDuPont. Estimated annual sales based on 2016 totals, the last year data are available.

It's important to remember that operations will continue to progress in 2018, despite the added paperwork from the upcoming spinoffs. The future materials science company is on track to bring new chemical production facilities on line in the first quarter of this year. It's also making progress on a novel biopolymer for the packaging market. Design and construction continues on additional assets that are expected to come on line by 2020.

The future agricultural company is gearing up to launch its Enlist corn product in North America in 2018, after a successful launch of the trait in cotton last year. It's poised to become an instant success, after Monsanto licensed the trait and China approved the future corn varieties for import.

An ear of corn on the stalk in a crop.

Image source: Getty Images.

Similarly, the future specialty products division is busy incorporating the health and nutrition assets acquired from FMC Corp. when the two swapped assets. It's also ramping up a new growth project for its industrial biotech division, which is the most successful on the planet.

Can you wait for the spinoffs?

Although the DowDuPont spinoffs aren't slated to be completed until June 2019, don't make the mistake of thinking the next 18 months will be filled with nothing but boring paperwork. The filing of Forms 10 later in the year could provide the first glimpse of more detailed operations for each of the three new companies. The roadshows in early 2019 will provide even more cause for excitement. And, of course, the combined company is still making progress on multiple growth opportunities each and every day.

Sure, some of the assets could be swapped around, and some of the dates could change, but the road map outlined above is generally what investors should expect for the upcoming breakup. Well, unless an activist investors throws a wrench into the plans. Then all bets will be off. But for now, everyone seems to be on board.