First-quarter operating earnings rose in five of DuPont's seven units, including in industrial biosciences, nutrition and health and performance materials businesses.
As part of a strategy to move into less volatile businesses, the company is hiving off its performance chemicals unit, which has weighed on results since 2012 due to weak prices for a white pigment used in toothpastes, sunscreens and other products.
Operating earnings in the business, which also makes materials used in non-stick cookware and refrigerants, fell 20 percent in the quarter.
Analysts speculate that the planned sale of DuPont's performance chemicals unit was at the behest of Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management disclosed a stake in the company last year.
Peltz called DuPont's stock undervalued, but did not spell out how he seeks to increase value. DuPont unveiled a $5 billion share repurchase program earlier this year.
A number of chemical companies, including Dow Chemical, have come under investor pressure to separate less stable businesses and raise shareholder returns.
Hedge fund titan Daniel Loeb's Third Point has urged Dow Chemical to spin off its lucrative but slow-growing petrochemical units and focus on specialty materials.
Smaller rival Chemtura Corp. said on Thursday that it would sell its agrichemicals business to Platform Specialty Products Corp for about $1 billion to focus on specialty chemicals.
Net income attributable to DuPont dropped to $1.44 billion, or $1.54 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $3.35 billion, or $3.58 per share, a year earlier.
DuPont's net income plunged as the company sold its performance coating business, which added almost $2 billion to earnings in the year-earlier quarter, to Carlyle Group in February.
Operating earnings were $1.58 per share, in line with analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell nearly 3 percent to $10.13 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $10.45 billion.