DuPont Raises 2008 Forecast, Despite Slowing US

Chemical maker DuPont Wednesday raised its 2008 earnings forecast on strength in emerging markets and its agriculture and nutrition segment, sending its shares up nearly 4 percent in premarket trading.

The company also said fourth-quarter results came in better than expected. As a result, it expects to report 2007 profit growth of 11 percent or more, despite a slowing U.S. economy and higher raw material prices.

Helped by "science-driven innovations and market differentiation," DuPont said it now expected 2007 earnings at the upper end of its prior view of $3.15 to $3.20 a share, excluding charges of 9 cents and a benefit of 2 cents.

For 2008, DuPont raised its profit forecast to a range of $3.35 to $3.55 a share from an earlier view of $3.31 to $3.52.

Analysts on average expect profit of $3.19 per share in 2007 and $3.42 in 2008, according to Reuters Estimates.

Soleil Securities analyst Mark Gulley said the higher outlook came as a positive surprise.

"Normally they wouldn't comment on the 2008 forecast, (but) in this market, which is very worried about a U.S. recession, it seems appropriate," Gulley said.

DuPont Chief Executive Charles Holliday said continued growth worldwide from the agriculture and nutrition segment and growth from all segments in emerging markets should more than compensate for a slower U.S. economy.

In a statement, Holliday said DuPont would continue to deliver productivity improvements and fund targeted growth investments, while bringing new products to the marketplace.

The company will report final results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2007 on Jan. 22.

DuPont shares were up 3.7 percent at $44.35 in trading before the market opened.

The stock had suffered a 9.5 percent drop in 2007, reaching a bottom at $42.72 in December, its lowest mark in over a year. The broader Standard & Poor's Chemicals Index rose 24 percent last year.