Posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 | In Current Market News, Stocks to Watch
EI DuPont de Nemours & Co. (DD) announced that it has expanded its collaboration agreement with the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (“ACPFG”) to improve the productivity of cereal crops. The terms of the agreement have yet to be disclosed.
The expanded program will include the use of molecular markers to advance cereal breeding, as well as discovery research for agronomic traits and hybrid seed production in wheat. The company will continue developing agronomic traits to increase drought tolerance while reducing the need for soil-applied nitrogen fertilizer in production crops, such as corn, soybeans, canola, rice and sorghum.
The deal involves DuPont business, Pioneer Hi-Bred, the world's leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics. Moreover, ACPFG is an industry leader in wheat research and development. Therefore, the collaboration is expected to provide high yielding wheat products, which is the largest acreage crop in the world, globally.
DuPont reported earnings of 35 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with 50 cents in the year-ago quarter. The profit exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 33 cents per share. A higher tax rate in the quarter led to the year-over-year decline in profit.
Further, higher selling prices during the quarter was offset by increased spending on selling, marketing and research and development, higher costs for raw materials, energy and freight as well as lower sales volumes.
Sales in the quarter grew 14% to $8.4 billion due to a rise of 14% in prices. Besides, the agriculture segment also contributed to the sales increase. The quarter witnessed declining sales volumes due to destocking in photovoltaics, polymer and industrial supply chains. The consumer electronics and construction division also faced soft demand.
DuPont reiterated its full-year 2012 earnings outlook of $4.20 to $4.40 per share, an increase of 7% to 12% compared with 2011, excluding significant items. Despite soft demand for consumer electronics segment and weak markets for housing and construction, DuPont delivered exceptional results for full-year 2011. However, the company faces stiff competition from The Dow Chemical Company (DOW) and BASF SE (BASFY).
Currently, the company retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a short-term (1 to 3 months) Hold rating and we have recommended the shares of the company as Neutral for the long term (more than 6 months).
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