I enjoy roller-coaster rides as much as the next daredevil, but not where my hard-earned money's concerned. On that basis alone, and amid market and economic conditions that would have made Evel Knievel blanch, it's encouraging to focus on DuPont (NYSE: DD), a large, old-line company that's come forth with some very solid results.

For the December quarter, after stripping away "significant items," per-share earnings for the Delaware-based former gunpowder manufacturer increased to $0.57, from $0.45 a year ago. Those significant items included a $465 million income-tax benefit that the company happily salted away in the year-earlier quarter. Sales in the most recent December-ended quarter were up 11% to $7.0 billion.

A key driver in the company's stellar performance was its 20% sales growth in emerging markets, most notably Brazil, China, and India. That rate compared to 5% top-line growth in the U.S., which, all things considered, wasn't chicken feed.

On a segment basis, three of the company's five groups checked in with double-digit sales growth -- led by Agriculture & Nutrition at 23% -- and all five were in plus territory. The ag group is still somewhat smaller than Coatings & Color Technologies and Performance Materials, but given its recent strides, it could slide into the top segment spot in relatively short order.

Clearly, DuPont, much like such other big U.S.-based companies as Monsanto (NYSE: MON) and Deere (NYSE: DE), is benefiting mightily from near runaway global growth in agricultural markets, as the world seeks to feed its citizenry and power its vehicles. At the same time, and as CEO (and Tennessee Volunteer) Charles Holliday Jr., noted, DuPont's strong performance resulted from its "global presence and the breadth of our product offerings."

So it appears that Fools would be well advised to keep DuPont firmly in their sites, especially with its shares down more than 15% since last spring. Beyond that, I'll be focusing on the results of a number of other big, international, U.S.-based companies -- Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), and 3M (NYSE: MMM) are three names that come immediately to mind -- for further confirmation of DuPont's indications of continued strength abroad.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned above. He does welcome your questions or comments. 3M is an Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.