Thank Nelson Peltz for DuPont profit beat: Analyst

DuPont Q1? Thank goodness for Nelson Petlz: Pro
DuPont Q1? Thank goodness for Nelson Petlz: Pro

Investors have activist investor Nelson Peltz to thank for DuPont's earnings beat, analyst Mark Connelly said Tuesday.

The chemical company is in the middle of a proxy war with investors represented by Peltz's investment management firm Trian Partners, which owned 24.6 million DuPont shares in February.

"At the end of the day DuPont is doing everything they possibly can, and it's because Nelson Peltz is here. I doubt these numbers would be as good if he weren't," said Connelly, managing director at equity broker CLSA. He spoke in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

DuPont on Tuesday delivered quarterly earnings that topped analysts' expectations, but revenue, hurt by a stronger dollar, was lighter than forecast.

The chemical company posted fiscal first quarter adjusted earnings of $1.34 per share, down from $1.58 a share in the year-earlier period.

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Revenue fell to $9.2 billion from $10.13 billion a year ago.

Wall Street had expected the company to deliver quarterly earnings per share of $1.31 on $9.42 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The stock was down in premarket trading. (Click here to track its share price)

DuPont also boosted its quarterly dividend to 49 cents a share from 47 cents a share.

The company estimated that the negative currency impact for the year has increased to about 80 cents a share, up from 60 cents per share previously forecast. DuPont now expects to be at the low end of the previous guidance range of $4 to $4.20 operating earnings per share for the year.

DuPont faces an "awfully tough environment" with a "huge amount of foreign exchange headwinds," but there are positive indicators in the earnings report, Connelly said. DuPont is finally cutting out costs, something the company should have done in 2010, he added.

The company is suffering in the short term from the spinoff of its volatile titanium dioxide business, which was one of its best units for absorbing fixed costs, according to Connelly. However, he said it was the right decision, and once again credited Peltz for pushing DuPont to move its performance chemicals units into a separate firm, the Chemours Company.

"They didn't sound like they were going to do it until he showed up," he said.

Trian Partners aims to break up the chemical giant while replacing four board members with "four highly qualified independent director candidates with experience and skills in areas critical to DuPont," Trian said in a letter to DuPont shareholders in February.

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However, DuPont's board of directors is urging shareholders to vote to keep the current board members and reject Trian's shakeup attempt.

Connelly said Peltz's effort to stack the board with his appointees stands little chance of success.

"I think he's been outmaneuvered by the board seats. They've put some big name people on their board," he said.

CNBC's Terri Cullen contributed to this report.