Less than two years after its formation, DowDuPont -- the chemical giant formed by the merger of Dow Chemical and E.I. du Pont de Nemours -- is now history. In its place are new spinoffs Dow (NYSE:DOW)DuPont de Nemours (NYSE:DD), and Corteva (NYSE:CTVA).

But even though two of the three companies share the names -- and ticker symbols -- of their predecessors, they aren't the same businesses. It's easy to see how this could get very confusing very quickly. Let's break it down so investors -- especially those who owned DowDuPont stock and now own shares of all three companies -- know what's in their portfolios.

Three people in white lab coats with safety glasses in a lab

DowDuPont's spinoffs are top companies in the chemical industry. Image source: Getty Images.

The new Dow: Materially strong

Market cap: $33.5 billion

Focus: Performance chemicals, chemical additives, packaging

While the old Dow and DuPont had many different product lines serving dozens of industries, the portfolios of both have been streamlined, leaving Dow with the bulk of the companies' "performance chemicals" assets. These include a lot of names with which you probably aren't familiar. (Paraloid ring a bell, anyone? Or Keldax?) That's because most of these products aren't sold directly to consumers, but rather to other companies as components to finished goods.

Paraloid, for example, is an acrylic resin that increases impact and heat resistance. It can be used on furniture, concrete floors, or in paint (among many other uses). Keldax is a resin that can be used as an adhesive or as a sound barrier in automobiles. And you'll probably never encounter those product names ever again. Basically, if it's a chemical that gets put onto or into something else, it probably ended up with Dow. 

Although the new Dow is focused on these and other materials like coatings and lubricants, its products still serve a wide variety of industries, including automaking, construction, and packaging. That should provide sufficient portfolio diversity to keep the company from relying too much on a single sector.

Since most of its assets are mature, Dow is expected to be more of a value play than a growth play, and should pay a substantial dividend. At the company's current price, the annual dividend yield looks to be around 6.1%, which is robust for this sector. 

Because the company's spinoff from DowDuPont is so recent, it's going to be tough to figure out exactly how the company is faring as a stand-alone entity (including how likely it is that the yield is going to stay so high). So far, however, the results seem encouraging. In Q2, Dow's first as a stand-alone company, CEO Jim Fitterling announced $75 million in year-over-year savings in combined selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses and research and development (R&D) costs, bringing the company's cumulative synergy savings to $1.1 billion since the merger of DuPont and Dow.

The new DuPont: Growing fast

Market cap: $49.6 billion

Focus: Specialty materials, high-growth materials, nutrition

DuPont's portfolio has been described as "specialty materials," which is pretty vague. It seems as if most of the products that stayed with DuPont are materials that can be made into finished products by themselves, as opposed to Dow's products, which are mostly components of or coverings for other materials or goods. This would explain why Tyvek construction wrap -- probably the most recognizable brand name in DowDuPont's portfolio -- stayed with DuPont. 

But unlike Dow's products, many of the materials in DuPont's portfolio are newer and expected to have higher growth rates. Kalrez, for example (don't you love all these crazy names?), is used to make seals for semiconductor and chemical processing. It's estimated to have a 10% growth rate through 2022. Management has also made clear that the company is focusing its R&D efforts on high-growth, high-return areas as well, with a stated goal of accelerating its growth. The company is also expected to generate higher margins than Dow. 

Because growth is the focus, DuPont's dividend yield is currently much lower than Dow's. At a quarterly $0.30 a share and a current share price of about $66.50, DuPont is yielding only about 1.8%. Not terrible, but growth is clearly the focus here.

Corteva: Turnaround or throwaway

Market cap: $21.8 billion

Focus: Agricultural chemicals, seeds

It's been a tough year for agricultural markets, particularly in North America. Flooding, trade issues, and other problems have hit North American farmers hard. And that's particularly tough for DowDuPont's agricultural sciences spinoff Corteva, which derives more than half its revenue from North America. Unlike Dow and DuPont, Corteva is a single-sector investment, which means that its future is dependent on agricultural markets.

If the problems in that market persist, Corteva investors could see a rough road ahead. But the company is also trying to exploit some big opportunities, including new product launches and a foray into digital agriculture, which brings technological and analytical tools to farmers to help them maximize efficiency and increase crop yields. 

Because it's such a new company, and still working out the effects of its spinoff, it's tough to know how well positioned Corteva is for success. Currently, its dividend and share price work out to about a 1.8% yield, similar to its cousin DuPont. 

What investors need to know

By streamlining its businesses and spinning them off, DowDuPont hoped to unlock value for its shareholders, who now should find themselves owning shares of all three of these companies (owning three shares of DowDuPont before the spinoffs would have gotten you one share each of Dow, DuPont, and Corteva). So far, that's been a winning proposition: Three shares of DowDuPont at market close on April 1 were worth about $111, while one share each of the three new companies currently trade at a combined $140. 

It may take awhile, however, for the dust to settle, so it's probably not a good idea to sell shares you already own until a clearer picture emerges. As for buying shares, it's a bit early to make judgments, but Dow and DuPont are looking like strong choices for value and growth investors, respectively. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.