DuPont (DD - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit and said it expects to see first-half operating earnings rise 16% as it grows agricultural sales following its $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical (DOW) .
Operating earnings for the first three months of the year were $1.64 a share, the company said, well ahead of the consensus forecast of $1.38 and up 28.1% from the same period last year. Revenue for the first quarter was $7.7 billion, DuPont said, ahead of the market forecast of $7.5 billion and a 5% increase from the first three months of last year.
Operating earnings in the agricultural portfolio, the company's biggest rose 12% to $1.236 billion on $3.928 billion in sales over the quarter with the unit seeing both sales volume and margin growth, DuPont said.
"Our team delivered strong operational performance in the first quarter, growing operating EPS by 30 percent," said CEO Ed Breen. "The strength of our new product introductions and increased demand in key markets together resulted in top-line increases in almost every business."
"We also made significant progress on key milestones in the merger with Dow, including receipt of conditional approval from the European Commission and an agreement with FMC Corp. (FMC - Get Report) to divest certain crop protection assets and acquire substantially all of its Health & Nutrition segment," Breen added.
"We continue to expect to close the merger in August of this year and quickly begin working on the 500-plus projects already identified to deliver the targeted $3 billion in cost synergies," Breen said.
CEO Ed Breen is "quiet miracle worker," TheStreet's Jim Cramer, manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said on CNBC's "Mad Dash" segment.
Organic growth of 5% is extraordinary and earnings per share of $1.64 came in a whopping 18% ahead of analysts' expectations, which called for $1.39.
Despite selling its crop protection business to FMC, DuPont is still generating a lot of revenue from its crop business. It will do well with the nutrition business it's receiving from FMC in the deal, too, Cramer said.
Breen continues to create value for shareholders and is a master at expanding margins, he added. The merger with Dow Chemical should happen by August or September and Cramer says DuPont deserve a $100 price target.
Earlier this year, DuPont cautioned that its merger with Dow Chemical -- which earned European Commission approval last month -- would hit earnings in the first three months of the year and that first-quarter sales would be largely flat from the same period a year ago in what it described as a "challenged" agricultural sector.
DuPont said at the time that its first-quarter earnings would include a charge of 15 cents a share for "transaction costs associated with the planned merger with Dow ... prior year GAAP earnings included a net benefit of 18 cents per share from significant items, primarily due to a gain on the sale of an entity."
Net income attributable to shareholders fell 9.75% to $1.11 billion, or $1.23 per share, from the same period last year, DuPont said, owing to the merger's one-time costs.
DuPont said it would sell its Cereal Broadleaf Herbicides and Chewing Insecticides portfolios as well as divest its crop protection research and development pipeline and assets.
"First-half 2017 operating earnings per share are expected to be about $2.90, an increase of about 16% versus prior year primarily driven by sales growth," DuPont said.
DuPont shares closed at $79.37 in New York on Monday after rising 0.92% during the session. The stock has gained 8.13% so far this year compared to a 5.06% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Updated from 6:43 ET to add Jim Cramer's comments.
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