WILMINGTON, Del. - Citing strong fourth-quarter results and prospects for growth in emerging markets, chemical maker DuPont has raised its earnings outlook for 2007 as well as its profit forecast for 2008.

According to reports, the company, which makes a range of products including refrigerants for HVACR systems, expects 2007 earnings to be at the upper end of its previously announced range of $3.15 to $3.20 a share, excluding one-time items.

DuPont also raised its 2008 earnings outlook to a range of $3.35 to $3.55 per share, up from a previous estimate of $3.31 to $3.52 per share.

DuPont chairman and chief executive officer Charles Holliday Jr. said 2007 earnings growth will be 11 percent or better, even with higher raw material prices and the sluggish housing and automotive markets. DuPont refrigerants are used in both residential air conditioning and automotive a/c.

“We expect that continued growth worldwide from our agriculture and nutrition business segment and growth from all of our segments in emerging markets will more than compensate for a slower U.S. economy,” Holliday said.

Carl Lukach, vice president of investor relations, said DuPont has kept a close eye on sales recently amid speculation that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession.

“To me it’s very significant because of the uncertainty that’s out there among investors and shareholders about how the economies are shaping up,” he said.

DuPont also announced after-tax estimates of significant items it expects to record in the fourth quarter, including a charge of about $135 million to adjust the carrying value of its investment in a polyester films joint venture. The company said a rapid increase in the cost of petroleum-related raw materials costs and adverse market conditions have negatively affected the venture’s operations in North America and Europe.

Lukach declined to provide details of the joint venture but DuPont said it is taking steps to improve the value of the business.

“All of the options are open to us, and we’re very actively looking at all those options now,” he said.

Publication date:01/14/2008