DuPont Cuts Dividend, Lowers Outlook

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E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (NYSE: DD) reported fiscal second quarter 2015 earnings Tuesday morning before markets opened. The chemical giant posted adjusted operating earnings per share (EPS) of $1.18 on revenues of $8.6 billion. In the first quarter of 2014 the company reported EPS of $1.58 on revenues of $9.71 billion. Consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters called for EPS of $1.18 on revenues of $8.75 billion.

EPS includes a $0.17 per share negative impact from the effects of currency exchange rates and a $0.09 per share benefit related to exchange gains and taxes attributable to prior periods. On a GAAP basis DuPont’s first quarter EPS was $1.03 compared with $1.15 in the first quarter a year ago.

DuPont lowered its dividend to $0.38 to reflect an expected quarterly dividend from recently spun-off Chemours Co. (NYSE: CC) that would add up to DuPont’s prior dividend of $0.49. DuPont raised its dividend from $0.47 to $0.49 in April.

DuPont also lowered its full-year EPS forecast from a prior outlook of $4.00 to $3.10. Weak global agriculture markets, especially for crop protection, the Latin American corn crop, and lower soybean volumes in North America, were singled out as drivers of the lowered outlook. DuPont expects to deliver cost cuts totaling $0.40 per share for the full fiscal year and the EPS outlook excludes $0.80 per share in anticipated full-year earnings from the Chemours spin-off and $0.10 per share related to weakness in the agricultural business. The company completed its spin-off of Chemours on July 1st.

CEO Ellen Kullman said:

We continued to improve margins across most of our ongoing businesses through our constant focus on productivity, even as we address industrywide challenges in agriculture and ongoing currency headwinds. With the separation of our Performance Chemicals segment now complete, the next generation DuPont is leveraging our innovation platform to drive greater growth and value, with a continued emphasis on cost productivity, actively managing our portfolio, and the disciplined return of capital.

Analysts are calling for third-quarter EPS of $0.40 on revenues of $5.74 billion. The current full-year EPS estimate is $3.54. Full-year revenue is estimated to come in at $29.65 billion.

Today’s earnings report had nothing to say about the dividend cut other than to report it. Perhaps the Chemours spin-off is suppose to take some of the sting out of that decision. We’ll likely find out at the conference call.

Shares are inactive Tuesday morning, having closed at $56.73 on Monday evening, down 0.4% for the day in a range of $56.26 to $76.59. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $69.73 before today’s report.

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