Better Earnings Through Chemistry

01/26/2010 4:06 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

On January 26, E.I. du Pont de Nemours (DD), known as du Pont to its friends, announced fourth quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, beating Wall Street projections by three cents a share. Revenues climbed 10.3% year to year, to $6.42 billion. Wall Street analysts had been expecting $6.16 billion.

Sales volumes for all regions of the world were up 10%, and sales in the Asia/Pacific region climbed 34% by volume from the fourth quarter of 2008 on strong demand from China, Japan, Korea, and India. Asia/Pacific sales now exceed pre-recession volumes. For more on why this point in the economic cycle is so good for industrial stocks, see this recent post.)

In its conference call, du Pont raised its guidance for 2010 revenue growth to $28.72 billion. That’s slightly above the Wall Street consensus of $28.69 billion. Sales in the first quarter should continue to reflect a rebound in early-cycle business from a bottom in the first quarter of 2009. Late-cycle businesses such as safety and protection will grow modestly.

In its agriculture and nutrition units, Du Pont expects continued growth with its Pioneer seed brand, picking up 1% to 2% of global market share in corn in the face of growing competition in the seed market.

The company paid its regular quarterly dividend of 41 cents a share on December 14, 2009 to shareholders of record as of November 13, 2009. Du Pont has kept the dividend at that level in both 2008 and 2009. I think that was a bit of prudent cash management during the recession, but du Pont has a history of raising dividends, and I’d be surprised if the company didn’t add to the payout in 2010.

I’m keeping the stock in my Dividend Income portfolio. The yield as of January 26 was 5%. The stock closed just below $33, up slightly.

Full disclosure: I don’t own any shares of du Pont in my personal portfolio.

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