DuPont Co. on Tuesday posted a lower quarterly profit after a large tax gain a year earlier and forecast earnings growth in 2005.

Net income fell to $278 million, or 28 cents a share, in the fourth quarter compared with $636 million, or 63 cents, a year earlier.

Before special items, DuPont earned $371 million, or 37 cents a share, versus 29 cents a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter charges included $100 million, or 9 cents a share to boost its legal reserve after its joint venture with Dow Chemical Co. was fined and pleaded guilty to fixing the price of synthetic rubber.

"Higher selling prices and volume growth more than offset higher energy and raw material costs," the Wilmington, Delaware-based company said in a statement.

Net sales for the quarter fell to $6.0 billion from $6.5 billion a year earlier although segment sales, excluding the divested Textiles and Interiors business, rose to $6.3 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

This sales growth was due largely to 5 percent volume growth and 7 percent higher U.S. dollar selling prices, which include 4 percent higher local selling prices.

DuPont forecast 2005 earnings of between $2.65 and $2.85 per share compared with 2004 earnings of $2.38 per share.

"With the structural transformation of our company now complete, our number one priority is delivering on our three business strategies which we are confident will create superior value for our customers and our shareholders," said Chief Executive Charles Holliday.

DuPont said it expected the pricing momentum created in 2004 to continue into 2005 and emerging market growth to continue to outpace global GDP growth as the company increases its penetration into those markets.

Sales of new products in 2005 are expected to increase to 33 percent of total sales as DuPont continues to introduce new products.

Source: Yahoo News