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posted better-than-expected second-quarter results, reversing a year-ago loss on higher sales volumes.

The company earned $543 million, or 54 cents a share, in the quarter, compared to a loss of $213 million, or 21 cents a share, a year ago. Last year's loss was the result of charges relating to job cuts, plant closings, and asset writedowns, among other things.

Excluding one-time charges, the company earned 71 cents a share in the second quarter, up 73% from 41 cents in the year-ago period. Analysts polled by tracking firm Thomson Financial/First Call had been expecting the company to earn 66 cents.

Total consolidated sales were $6.7 billion, down from $7 billion last year, while segment sales were down 5% to $7.4 billion. On a comparable basis excluding divestitures, sales were up 1% from last year, reflecting a 5% increase in sales volumes. This increase was partially offset by falling prices, however.

DuPont said the higher volumes were primarily in its Coatings & Color Technologies, Performance Materials, and Textiles & Interiors divisions. The largest fall in prices occurred in the Textiles division, as well as the Communication Technologies segment.

Looking ahead, DuPont said it "expects the global economic recovery to continue, but at a more modest pace than the growth rates experienced in the first half, which benefited in part from inventory restocking." Strong housing and automotive markets, low inflation and interest rates, and the weaker dollar are expected to contribute to the company's growth throughout the second half.

The company expects third-quarter earnings per share to be about double last year's, while fourth-quarter EPS should triple the year-ago quarter's results.

Shares of DuPont closed at $37.05 Tuesday before the earnings release.