DuPont and Praxair report drop in earnings

Chemicals company DuPont Co. reported a 75% decline in third-quarter earnings as the weakening economy slowed demand for its products, while industrial gases concern Praxair Inc. saw a decline of 49% …

Chemicals company DuPont Co. reported a 75% decline in third-quarter earnings as the weakening economy slowed demand for its products, while industrial gases concern Praxair Inc. saw a decline of 49% largely due to restructuring costs. DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, US, reported net income of US$ 142 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with US$ 562 million, or 53 cents a share, a year earlier. A legal settlement offset by an unusual tax benefit boosted income in the quarter by a penny a share. Sales declined 16% to US$ 5.78 billion from US$ 6.87 billion. As economic sectors like construction, electronics and automobile manufacturing have been hurt, DuPont“s customers have needed less of the chemicals, specialty plastics and fibres it sells. While DuPont“s outlook for the coming quarters was already gloomy, the terrorist attacks of 11 September worsened its expectations. DuPont said sales volumes fell in every region and operating earnings plunged in every business segment except pharmaceuticals. DuPont completed the sale of its drug division to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for US$ 7.8 billion on 1 October. The unit booked operating earnings of US$ 84 million in the third quarter, mainly due to income under a profit-sharing agreement for the hypertension drugs Cozaar/Hyzaar. DuPont retained that income when it sold the drug unit. DuPont“s polyester and agriculture and nutrition businesses reported losses, while the specialty fibres business recorded a 64% drop in income and nylon reported a 57% decline. Excluding a gain of about US$ 4 a share from selling the drug unit, DuPont said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be on par with the third quarter, and it expects market conditions to continue to weaken through the first half of 2002. Praxair, of Danbury, Connecticut, reported net income of US$ 62 million, or 38 cents a share, compared with US$ 122 million, or 76 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter. The latest quarter included about US$ 70 million in pre-tax charges related to restructuring costs. Sales were roughly flat at US$ 1.27 billion.