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DuPont Raises First-Quarter Profit Outlook

Chemical maker DuPont raised its profit outlook Thursday, saying strong growth in its agriculture businesses and emerging markets should help offset weakness in U.S. housing and automotive markets.

The company also expects higher pricing and gains from currency translations to overcome the impact of significantly higher costs for raw materials.

In recent months, DuPont and peers like Monsanto have benefited from the agricultural sector's global boom, which has been spurred by the rising purchasing power of the middle-class population in developing countries and increased demand for for corn-based ethanol in the United States.

DuPont now expects to earn about $1.29 a share in the first quarter, compared with its previously issued outlook of $1.14 to $1.19.

Analysts on average had forecast profit of $1.17 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

"Growth in agriculture and emerging markets, along with continued cost productivity gains, are enabling us to overcome challenges in certain U.S. markets and higher cost ingredients," Chief Executive Charles Holliday said in a statement.

The Wilmington, Delaware-based company expects first-half earnings growth of about 10 percent, with second-quarter profit of about $1.05 a share. Analysts on average had forecast
earnings of $1.12 a share for the quarter.

DuPont also raised the lower end of its full-year outlook by 5 cents a share to a range of $3.40 to $3.55. Wall Street was expecting $3.44.

The company expects to report first-quarter financial results on April 22.

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