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DuPont 2013 profits surge 76% helped by strong Q4


US chemical giant DuPont reported Tuesday that the slowly rebounding global economy allowed it to double profits in the fourth quarter and boost its full-year earnings by 76 percent.

The company announced it would launch a program to buy back $5 billion of its own shares, starting with $2 billion this year.

The Wilmington, Delaware firm said higher volumes, new products and gains in productivity helped strengthen its bottom line, with disappointment only in its Performance Chemicals division, which it is spinning off into a separate company.

"For the year, we delivered double-digit operating earnings growth and higher margins, aside from the substantial decline in Performance Chemicals," said chairwoman and chief executive Ellen Kullman in a statement.

"Our 2013 results and strategic actions demonstrate we are advancing our plan to build a higher growth, higher value DuPont and reinforce our decision to separate Performance Chemicals into a strong, independent company."

For the fourth quarter net income was $185 million, or 20 cents a share, compared to $89 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales were $7.75 billion, up 5.8 percent.

For the full year, the company earned a net $4.86 billion ($5.22 a share) on $35.73 billion in sales, up from $2.78 billion in profits ($2.94 a share) on $34.81 billion in sales in 2012.

Kullman said that the share buyback "reflects our commitment to shareholders and our confidence in building a higher growth, higher value company."

"Given our cash position, strong balance sheet and outlook, this program is a measured way to maintain ample financial capability, reinvest in our science-based businesses for growth, and deliver attractive cash returns to our shareholders."

The company forecast 2014 operating earnings per share in the range of $4.20-$4.45 on an expected 4 percent gain in sales.

Earlier this month DuPont announced that its executive vice president Mark Vernagno would become chief executive of the new, independent company that will house the Performance Chemicals division, which includes refrigerants, titanium dioxide and brand-name surfacing materials like Teflon and Corian.

The spinoff of the division, which counted sales of $6.7 billion last year, will take place over the next year and be completed by February 2015.

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