About half of DuPont Co.'s global nylon resin capacity remains idle as a result of a soft automotive market tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the third quarter, we expect our idled polymer capacity to be approximately equal to where it was in the second quarter," a company spokesman said in an Aug. 3 email to Plastics News. "We expect to bring those facilities back on line as demand requires and typically need two [to] three weeks to ramp back to full rates."
He added that most of DuPont's nonresin nylon production facilities "continue to operate at near normal rates."
Officials with DuPont in Wilmington, Del., confirmed in early May that they had idled nylon resin production. "We took quick, decisive action to manage our working capital and to better align our production volumes with the demand we expect in the near term," Chairman and CEO Ed Breen said at that time.
In the second quarter, DuPont took a $2.5 billion noncash impairment charge in its Transportation and Industrial unit, which includes nylon, as a result of the global slowdown in the auto industry. Officials announced the charge in a July 30 earnings release.
For the quarter, DuPont's overall sales were down almost 13 percent to $4.8 billion. First-half sales declined more than 8 percent to just over $10 billion.
In the T&I unit, second-quarter sales plummeted more than 34 percent to $832 million. First-half sales for the unit slumped almost 24 percent to just under $2 billion. The pandemic caused much global auto production to shut down for parts of the first and second quarters, although many plants now have reopened.
Sales in DuPont's Safety and Construction unit, including Tyvek-brand polyethylene film, have fared better in 2020, falling only 7 percent for the second quarter and 4 percent for the half. Officials said that Tyvek garment demand was up more than 60 percent during the quarter. Tyvek is used extensively in surgical gowns and other protective garments needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Like many public firms, DuPont's per-share stock price has been battered in 2020 by the effects of COVID-19. The price began the year above $60 and fell close to $30 in March. It's recovered since then and closed near $52.50 on Aug. 3, down about 17 percent from its Jan. 1 price.