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DuPont cuts profit hopes on 'continued weakness' in ag markets

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Chemical company DuPont has seen shares tumble, after it trimmed its full-year earnings forecast, lowering expectations for sales in its farm segment due to "continuing weakness in global agricultural markets".

The US conglomerate, for which relies on seed and agrichemicals for more than one-third of sales, has faced seen demand for inputs wane as farmers tighten their belts.

DuPont said has lowered its total forecast earnings for this year to $3.10 per share, down from earlier guidance of $4.00-4.20 per share, citing a "challenging" global agriculture market, as well as currency effects.

Slow start

DuPont, which owns the seed company Pioneer, said it expects "continuing strong headwinds" for its agriculture sector in 2015, thanks the effect of the weak Brazilian real, and a fall in global corn planted areas.

The group forecast an operation loss for the agriculture segment in the three months to September 30.

The group reported that the South American agricultural season, which is currently underway, was seeing a "slow start as farmers remain cautious given the economic environment".

Weaker demand

DuPont's agriculture business has already seen earnings fall thanks to lower sales volumes and currency effects.

DuPont noted "weaker demand in global crop protection markets, reduced expectations for corn area in Latin America, and lower than expected soybean volumes in North America".

In the three months to June 30, DuPont's agriculture segment sales were $3.2bn, down 11% from the same time last year.

The group reported "lower corn planted area in North America and globally in the first half of the year", as well as a fall in soybean seed demand, leading to a 7% fall in seed sales.

Meanwhile agricultural chemical sales were down 21% thanks to "weaker market demand from farmers looking to reduce input costs and delay purchases, lower insect pressure in Brazil and the impact of higher inventories in the Americas".

Earnings fall

DuPont reported earnings of $1.18 per share in the three months to June 30, or $1.075bn, down 1% from 1.085bn over the same period last year.

This fell short of analysts' expectations of $1.21 per share.

The group's revenues of were down 11.5% to $8.60bn, from $9.71bn over the same time last year, and short of analyst projections of $8.97bn.

DuPont shares in New York were down 4.7% at $54.06 per share in morning deals.


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