For the quarter, the company earned $1.43 billion, or $1.52 per share, compared with $1.13 billion, or $1.24 per share, in the comparable quarter a year ago. Those results easily topped analysts' expectations, which had included a per-share number closer to $1.36. The company's revenues increased 18% to $10 billion, again eclipsing the consensus forecast of $9.19 billion. Management also raised its 20011 earnings forecast to $3.65 to $3.85, from $3.45 to $3.75.
On a sector basis, Agriculture & Nutrition, the company's largest group, increased its sales by 18% to $3.8 billion, based in part on volume growth in seeds and crop protection products. At the same time, Electronics & Communications led all units with a sales expansion of 29%, which was largely tied to photovoltaic sales and demand for smart phones and tablet PCs. The company's other four sectors also recorded double-digit increases in sales, with Performance Chemicals and Safety & Protection registering improvements of 27% and 22%, respectively.
As one who is constantly astounded by the wide disparity among companies' effectiveness in communicating the dynamics of their businesses at earnings time, I find it necessary to note the ability of DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman in that regard. For instance, on her most recent call, Ms. Kullman described DuPont's "groundbreaking Kevlar XP technology," which permits a 20% weight reduction in helmets used by the military, without diminishing essential ballistic protection.
On a broader front, Ms. Kullman noted DuPont's "very strong results in the first quarter," something she attributed to "disciplined execution across our businesses." She added that, "... since we reorganized the company 18 months ago, we have consistently focused on market-driven innovation, differential allocation of resources, and productivity, and this focus continues to pay off."
Regarding Japan, she said that, "Dupont was very fortunate that our employees and their families are safe and accounted for and, comparatively speaking, our production and research facilities were spared from major impact."
DuPont continues with its effort to acquire Danish food additives maker Danisco, for which it launched a tender offer in January at a then 25% premium. At this time, only a fraction of Danisco shareholders have agreed to the tender offer, which expires at the end of April.
The company will be followed on the reporting cycle by Dow Chemical on Thursday, and by smaller chemicals companies Eastman Chemical