DuPont says first-quarter net income soars

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The DuPont Co. said Tuesday that its net income more than doubled in the first quarter on a gain from the sale of its performance coatings unit and strong continuing results in its agricultural unit.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., reported net income of $ 3.35 billion or $ 3.58 per share for the quarter ended March 31. That’s up from $ 1.49 billion, or $ 1.58 per share, a year ago.

Revenue increased 2 percent to $ 10.4 billion, matching Wall Street expectations, with 4 percent volume growth in North American and Latin America. Sales were flat in the Asia-Pacific region and down slightly in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Overall, global volume was up 2 percent.

DuPont’s results include net income from discontinued operations after taxes of $ 1.9 billion, compared to $ 95 million in last year’s first quarter. The latest results reflect completion of the company’s sale of its performance coatings unit, which produces automotive and industrial paints, for $ 4.9 billion to The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.

DuPont also took a one-time pre-tax charge of $ 35 million to settle claims related to use of its weed killer Imprelis, which has been blamed for damaging evergreen trees.

Excluding one-time items, DuPont reported operating earnings of $ 1.46 billion, or $ 1.56 per share, for the quarter compared with $ 1.5 billion, or $ 1.64 per share, for the first quarter of last year.

“The first quarter finished as expected, with the strong agriculture performance and performance chemicals’ decline from peak levels last year,” said DuPont chairwoman and CEO Ellen Kullman.

Its shares rose 32 cents to $ 50.73 in premarket trading.

DuPont said sales in its agriculture unit increased 14 percent in the first quarter to $ 4.67 billion, as volume grew 8 percent and prices from new seed and crop protection products increased 6 percent. Operating earnings totaled a record $ 1.5 billion, up 13 percent.

In contrast, the performance chemicals unit saw sales plunge 17 percent to $ 1.5 billion, as volumes slid 6 percent and prices dropped 11 percent. Operating earnings were down 56 percent to $ 251 million. The results reflect substantial price declines in the sluggish market for titanium dioxide, a whitening pigment used in products ranging from toothpaste to paint, and weak demand for fluoropolymers. DuPont said titanium dioxide volume compared to last year’s first quarter but increased 8 percent compared to the last quarter of 2012.

DuPont reaffirmed its full-year outlook for operating earnings of $ 3.85-$ 4.05 per share, compared to $ 3.77 per share for 2012.

The company also announced a 5 percent increase in its quarterly cash dividend.

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Hasbro says Monopoly contest helped lift sales

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — Hasbro reported first-quarter results Monday that beat Wall Street expectations as the toy maker benefited from an online contest that let people vote to eliminate one of its Monopoly tokens and introduce a new one.

The Pawtucket, R.I., maker of G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and Transformers said revenue rose for three of its four categories: games, girls and preschool. Its boys category continued to face troubles, with sales down 20 percent.

Rival Mattel, which is the world’s biggest toy maker with its Barbie dolls, also reported better-than-expected results last week, as strong sales of dolls like Monster High, Disney Princess and American Girl helped more than quadruple net income.

Hasbro, meanwhile, said growth in its girls category for the period was driven by Furby, My Little Pony and One Direction. Play-Doh helped boost its preschool category and action games such as Angry Birds Star Wars helped fuel growth in the games category.

The company also noted that the Monopoly contest was “tremendously successful” and that it plans to follow up with new versions of the game.

The Facebook campaign earlier this year let people vote to eliminate one of the eight tokens that identify the players and introduce a new one. Ultimately, a cat token replaced the iron.

Toy makers are looking to adapt and reinvent old brands as the industry faces a slowdown in developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe, where mobile devices and electronics are stealing attention away from toys.

Hasbro has embarked on a cost-cutting program to maintain profitability, including a push to slash its workforce by 10 percent. The move also includes consolidating facilities and reducing the number of product extensions.

By 2015, it says the program will result in $ 100 million in savings annually. For now, the changes are taking their toll through restructuring charges.

For the quarter, Hasbro lost $ 6.7 million, or 5 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $ 2.6 million, or 2 cents per share, a year ago.

When stripping out the impact of a restructuring charge and tax adjustments, however, Hasbro Inc. said it earned 5 cents per share. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 4 cents per share.

Revenue rose more than 2 percent to $ 663.7 million despite a hit of more than $ 3 million from foreign exchange rates.

In North America, revenue growth of 4 percent was driven by the girls and games categories. International revenue was flat, or up 1 percent when excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates. The increase was driven by growth in Latin America and Asia, as well as the games, girls and preschool categories.

Analysts expected $ 642.1 million in revenue.

Hasbro shares rose $ 2.59, or 5.7 percent, to $ 47.61 in morning trading after rising as high as $ 48.46 earlier, the highest since December 2010.

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Walter says sales of coal for steelmaking rose

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Walter Energy Inc. said Thursday that first-quarter results were better than the previous three months on higher prices for coal used in steelmaking, higher production and lower costs.

The shares rose 39 cents to close at $ 24.12. After the update, they were up $ 1.96, or 8.1 percent, to $ 26.08 in after-hours trading.

The company said it sold about 2.8 million metric tons of metallurgical coal, an increase of 9 percent over the fourth quarter.

Sales of thermal coal, which is burned to produce power, fell about 40 percent from the fourth quarter to 380,000 metric tons in the first quarter. The lower volume raised the costs of producing a ton of thermal coal by about $ 35.

The average sale price improved slightly, while the cash cost of sales for metallurgical coal fell by more than $ 10 per ton, the company said.

Walter Energy is scheduled to release first-quarter results May 2. Analysts expect the company to post a loss, excluding special items, of 86 cents per share, according to FactSet. The company lost $ 1.07 per share in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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Schulman says troubles in Europe weigh on results

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Economic troubles in Europe weighed on A. Schulman Inc.’s fiscal second-quarter results and the company lowered its earnings outlook for the year on Monday.

The company, based in Akron, Ohio, is a supplier of plastic compounds and resins.

Joseph Gingo, A. Schulman’s chairman, president and CEO, said that after several months of relative stability in its European markets, the company now believes that its business there is going through another difficult period due to growing economic uncertainties in the region. It is also said that it is facing increasing competition on price from its peers.

The company had already cut jobs, begun to consolidate some manufacturing facilities and made other changes to put itself in a better financial position. It said Monday that it may cut costs further and is looking at other consolidation efforts in response to weak demand.

It expects to recognize additional restructuring and accelerated depreciation charges totaling approximately $ 1.5 million during the remainder of fiscal 2013. As a result, the company anticipates saving $ 1.4 million on an annual basis once the plan is fully implemented.

It also plans to reorganize some of its business operations in Europe to address the challenges there.

Schulman’s news came as that company reported net income of $ 11.8 million, or 40 cents per share, for the period that ended Feb. 28. That is compared with $ 9.1 million, or 31 cents per share, earned in the prior year. It earned 27 cents per share versus 38 cents per share on an adjusted basis.

The company’s revenue increased 5 percent to $ 522.4 million from $ 495.9 million, due largely to recent acquisitions.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting the company would earn an adjusted 39 cents per share on revenue of $ 526.4 million.

Schulman’s revenue from the Americas segment increased 11 percent to $ 144.2 million. Its revenue from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region increased 3 percent to $ 342.2 million and its revenue in the Asia Pacific region increased nearly 7 percent to $ 36 million.

“Although we are not encouraged by the global economic environment and its impact on the plastic compounding industry, as we have successfully demonstrated in the past we will aggressively manage what we can control while driving growth through new products and value-generating acquisitions, including expansion into adjacent markets,” Gingo said.

The company expects its results will improve in the second half of the year but said weak global demand has made it cautious. As a result, the company lowered its full-year earnings forecast to a range of $ 2.08 to $ 2.13 per share for the year versus a forecast in January of adjusted earnings of $ 2.14 to $ 2.19 per share. Analysts had forecast adjusted earnings of $ 2.15 per share for the year.

Shares of the company fell 6 percent in after-hours trading to $ 28 on the news. Its stock price fell 34 cents to close regular trading at $ 29.75

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Alcoa says ‘committed’ to being cash flow positive in 2013

On Alcoa’s (AA) Q1 earnings conference call, management said the quarterly results were a “great start” to the fiscal year as all segments were profitable. They noted that global end market growth was solid and reaffirmed aluminum demand growth of 7% for 2013. Overall productivity for the quarter was quoted as being “very strong” with improvements across the board, while overhead costs were down sequentially. For Q2, the Aero and auto markets are expected to be strong with seasonal demand increases in packaging. Pricing pressures in North America and China are seen continuing, as are productivity gains. The combined upstream is expected to be flat in total. For 2013, the company is committed to being “cash flow positive regardless of metal prices.” Management expects to deploy aggressive operational targets to offset current lower metal prices. Their 2013 targets include: generating productivity gains of $ 750M, managing growth capital of $ 550M, controlling sustaining capital of $ 1.0B, Saudi JV investment of $ 350M, and maintaining a 30%-35% debt-to-capital ratio.

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