DuPont's ( DD) fourth-quarter profit topped analysts' expectations as growth in overseas markets helped offset slower sales in the U.S. and higher commodity costs. The Wilmington, Del., chemical giant's net income slipped to $545 million, or 60 cents a share, from $871 million, or 94 cents a share, a year earlier. The decline reflected a one-time tax gain in the year-ago period. Excluding items in both periods, DuPont's earnings per share rose to 57 cents from 45 cents a year earlier. Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of 49 cents a share for the recent quarter, according to Thomson Financial. DuPont's sales rose to $6.98 billion from $6.27 billion the prior year, topping Wall Street's expectation of $6.67 billion. Outside the U.S., sales jumped 14%, boosted by 20% growth in emerging markets. Currency gains added 4% to sales. In the U.S., sales climbed 5% to $2.3 billion. DuPont said that local selling-price gains more than offset rises in ingredient costs. The company reiterated its forecast given earlier this month for 2008 earnings of $3.35 to $3.55 a share. For the first quarter, DuPont predicts a profit of $1.12 to $1.17 a share, bracketing analysts' average forecast of $1.15. Shares of DuPont recently were up 15 cents, or 0.4%, to $42.85.