DuPont ( DD) raised its full-year forecast and said it was upbeat on 2008, but it offered somewhat cautious commentary on the health of the U.S. This year, DuPont now expects to earn $3.15 to $3.20 a share, excluding a charge, up from its prior projection of around $3.15. For the fourth quarter, the chemicals company expects that strong sales growth outside the U.S. will continue to exceed the effect of lower demand from the domestic housing and auto markets. However, net income growth in the last quarter of the year will probably be tempered by a much higher base tax rate compared with the prior year. DuPont said its 2008 outlook is positive, and it expects solid revenue expansion in emerging markets and significant earnings growth in its agriculture and nutrition segment. But the optimistic view is being moderated by potentially lower demand from U.S. housing and automotive markets and the uncertainty of ingredient costs, DuPont said. The company's goal is for next year's earnings to grow about 5% to 10% from its anticipated 2007 results, implying a profit range of around $3.31 to $3.52. Analysts are looking for $3.15 this year and $3.41 next year. DuPont's outlook came as the company reported third-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share, up from 52 cents a year ago. Stripping out items, earnings would have been 59 cents, 7 cents better than analysts predicted.
Sales in the third quarter rose 6% to $6.7 billion. Excluding portfolio changes, sales would have been up 7%. Positive revenue growth in all international segments more than offset lower U.S. demand. "This performance places us firmly on track to achieve our 2007 outlook and sets the stage for continued growth in 2008," DuPont said. "While uncertainties remain in the global economy, we are confident in our ability to deliver solid earnings growth next year."