Chemicals giant DuPont Co. posted major profit gains during 2013, even as sales were flat in its Performance Materials unit, which includes many plastic products.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont rang up sales of just over $35.7 billion in 2013, up 3 percent vs. 2012. The firm's full-year profit soared almost 75 percent to almost $4.9 billion.
But Performance Materials' sales essentially were flat at just under $6.5 billion. Operating income for the unit — which includes nylon and several specialty resins, as well as specialty film based on some of those materials — did improve 14 percent to almost $1.3 billion. Performance Materials' fourth-quarter operating earnings also improved, which officials said was the result of increased demand in packaging, automotive and industrial markets.
DuPont's Performance Chemicals unit — including its Teflon-brand fluoropolymer and Ti-Pure brand titanium dioxide businesses — had a difficult 2013, with sales dropping almost seven percent to $6.7 billion and operating income plummeting 48 percent to $924 million. The firm announced in October that it planned to spin the unit off as a separate public company.
"Our 2013 results and strategic actions demonstrate [that] we are advancing our plan to build a higher growth, higher value DuPont," Chairman and CEO Ellen Kullman said in a Jan. 28 news release. She added that the firm's full-year results "reinforce our decision to separate Performance Chemicals into a strong, independent company."
Performance Materials and Performance Chemicals were the two largest of DuPont's seven operating segments in 2013, generating almost 37 percent of the firm's sales.
On Wall Street, DuPont's per-share stock price has fared well in the last year. It was under $48 in early January 2013 but stood near $60 in late trading Jan. 28 — an increase of almost 24 percent.