In a major shakeup, DuPont Co. is changing its top management less than a year after becoming an independent company again.
CEO Marc Doyle is being replaced by Chairman Ed Breen, who previously also held the CEO role. Chief Financial Officer Jeanmarie Desmond also is out, replaced by Lori Koch, the firm's vice president of investor relations, corporate financial planning and analysis.
Both appointments are effective immediately, officials said in a Feb. 18 news release. They added that the board of directors at Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont "has made these leadership changes to accelerate operational performance improvement and to more directly tap Ed Breen's significant management experience."
Breen joined DuPont in 2015 after a long career in management, including stints at Tyco International and Motorola. Since joining DuPont, Breen "led the company through an extensive transformation to further unlock the potential of its distinctive capabilities, innovative portfolio and deep customer relationships," Alexander Cutler, head independent director, said in the release.
"After careful consideration, the board concluded now is the right time to make these leadership changes, including restoring Ed to the chief executive role to draw more directly on his substantial operating experience," Cutler added.
"The board is confident that together Ed and Lori will improve operational performance and ensure DuPont fully delivers on its significant potential for long-term value creation," he said.
Koch has been with DuPont for 17 years, including stints leading finance for several multibillion-dollar business units including Packaging and Industrial Polymers, Performance Polymers and Performance Materials.
Breen said that he and the board "deeply appreciate Marc and Jeanmarie's significant contributions over decades of service to the company."
"Most recently, they led the company through a period of important transition, and we are grateful for their dedication to DuPont over the course of their careers," he added.
Doyle had been with DuPont for 25 years, serving as chief operating officer for Specialty Products before being named CEO in June 2019. Desmond's DuPont career covered 31 years, most recently as co-controller and head of finance for Specialty Products before becoming CFO.
Breen also said that while DuPont "made some progress" in 2019, the firm "did not meet our own expectations and we now need to move aggressively to secure our foundation for growth."
"We have solid businesses, but … we need to accelerate operational improvement and make sure we are taking appropriate action to deliver on our commitments for the year," he added.
Breen will leave his position on the board of directors of DuPont spinoff Corteva in order to focus on DuPont. DuPont became an independent company again on June 1 after a two-year merger with Dow Inc. That split also created an independent Dow and Corteva, an independent firm focused on agricultural products.
Former DuPont CFO Nick Fanandakis also will return to the firm to serve as senior adviser to the CEO with a focus on driving the restructuring effort. Officials added that DuPont "will continue to advance the initiatives announced on its fourth quarter and year-end 2019 conference call to assure that its organizational and cost structures are right-sized to reflect the ongoing portfolio changes."
DuPont's sales were down almost 5 percent to $21.5 billion for full-year 2019. The firm's 2019 profit of $600 million was down 85 percent from 2018. Doyle had said in a Jan. 30 news release that DuPont's full-year results "demonstrate our ability to offset challenging global macro conditions by focusing on the levers within our control."
But he also said that as DuPont went into 2020, company officials "foresee further nylon pricing declines and unfavorable nylon mix partially offsetting organic revenue growth in our other core segments." He added that the firm "continues to strategically reduce spending and are taking actions to consolidate our asset footprint."
DuPont's Transportation and Industrial unit, including nylon and other engineering resins, saw 2019 sales fall almost 9 percent to $4.95 billion, with pretax profit down 13.5 percent to $1.3 billion.
The firm's Safety and Construction unit, including such plastic products as Kevlar-brand aramid fibers, Nomex-brand aramid materials, Tyvek-brand high density polyethylene fibers and Styrofoam-brand expanded polystyrene foam, posted 2019 sales of $5.2 billion. That amount was down almost 2 percent, but the unit's pretax profit jumped almost 11 percent to $1.4 billion.
Safety and Construction was the second-largest of DuPont's five operating units in 2019, representing more than 24 percent of sales. Transportation and Industrial was third in that same comparison with a 23 percent share of sales.
Wall Street reaction to DuPont's fourth-quarter results was negative, sending the firm's per-share stock price down almost 9 percent to $52.72 on Jan. 30. The price was near $53.40 in early trading Feb. 20. It had been above $66 in mid-December.