DuPont Beats the Street Yet CEO Is Cautious

DuPont CEO on Q4 Earnings & Agriculture Biz
DuPont CEO on Q4 Earnings & Agriculture Biz

Chemical and bioscience company DuPont saw its fourth quarter profit plunge, the company said on Tuesday, amid weakness in its performance chemicals and electronics and communications businesses, coupled with costs associated with attempts to jumpstart growth.

Still, the results beat the consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts of 7 cents per share. Its shares rose 91 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $47.90 in pre market trading.

The company on Tuesday reported net income for the quarter ending Dec. 31 of $111 million, or 12 cents per share, excluding significant items, compared to net income of $373 million, or 40 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Net sales for the quarter matched the prior year's figure of $7.3 billion, partly offset by a negative currency impact and a small reduction in shifts in DuPont's portfolio, the company said.

The company also provided a 2013 earnings forecast that was above market expectations. The company said 2013 earnings per share would be between $3.85 and $4.05. Analysts had forecast 2013 earnings per share of $3.84. Its 2013 revenue forecast however was in line with expectations of $36 billion.

Despite that rosier guidance, DuPont Chairman and CEO Ellen Kullman told CNBC, "2013 is setting up to be a cautious year."

(Read More: Economy Strong; 'Question Marks' Persist: DuPont CEO)

She said in a "Squawk Box" interview there are the two big hurdles to growth — one, how the U.S. deals with its deficit problems; and two, how China comes through the final changes in its government.

Jim Graham | Bloomberg | Getty Images

However, Kullman added that DuPont is "well-positioned in agriculture" and several other sectors.

Agriculture sales rose 18 percent on sales of $1.5 billion, with the company citing the impact of rising prices.

DuPont's stock jumped by more than two percent in pre market trading. (Click here for the latest quotes before the opening bell.)

-AP contributed to this report.