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Dupont Agriculture Business Up in Volatile Times: CEO

Volatility has become a way of life, but people still have to eat. That's why sales at Dupont's agricultural businesses, including seed and insecticide, have been strong, CEO Ellen Kullman told CNBC.

Soybean crop
AP
Soybean crop

"With commodity prices high, farmers want yield. Feeding the world is going to be a big issue, and science is going to help that," she said from Davos Friday. Dupont has been working on new seeds and insecticides for farmers to maximize those crop yields.

Volatility will be a way of life," Kullman added. That means businesses have work more closely with customers and come up with more innovative products.

"You have to connect to customers to understand what’s going on to be successful," she said.

Agriculture pushed Dupont to a "great year and a good fourth quarter," she said, while its electronics, solar and automotives businesses "saw some negative volume," particularly in Europe and Asia-Pacific where there was de-stocking. She attributed that to "conservatism. They're not sure how 2012 is going to start and they're answering that with destocking.

She thinks politicians she's heard at the conference are optimistic about the economy this year, while the economists "are not quite so sure. They are more pessimistic. Add it all up and it's going sideways. I happen to be an optimist. I think it'll work out but it will take a while.

The same is true for her company, where she thinks sales will "start out slow, except in agriculture" and build during the year.

"At the end of the year we’re going to be pleased with where we end up," she said.

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