E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Earnings Call Insights: Reports Specificities and Acquisition Pipeline

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (NYSE:DD) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Reports Specificities

Mike Ritzenthaler – Piper Jaffray: In terms of outlook, Ellen, I just wanted to clarify that the first half, I think it was previously down 3% to 7% and is expected to be down 7% to 9%. Is that consistent with the message that you’re trying to get across versus pervious or is that an artifact of the change in pension accounting?

Ellen Kullman – Chair of the Board and CEO: So, we never gave a number range in our January call. We said it would be down. I don’t remember the word we used. Nick?

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Nicholas C. Fanandakis – EVP and CFO: I think it was modestly.

Ellen Kullman – Chair of the Board and CEO: Modestly, right. So, we are getting more specific based on the impact of the volatility of Performance Chemicals and some other factors like the higher commodity prices and we thought it would be helpful to you to get more specific at this point in time about the first half of the year.

Mike Ritzenthaler – Piper Jaffray: That makes sense. Thanks for clarifying that point.

Ellen Kullman – Chair of the Board and CEO: So, it’s consistent with what we were seeing or thinking starting in January…

Mike Ritzenthaler – Piper Jaffray: Then maybe a more detailed question for Jim. Monsanto has been on a partnering licensing frenzy lately including of course with DuPont. It appears that they will have the optionality through one or more of these agreements for all of the major next-gen herbicides, Liberty, Enlist, Dicamba and so forth in corn, soybeans and other major crops. Can you walk us through DuPont’s rationale on this subject and how important Enlist and Dicamba is for corn over the next couple of years and do soybeans need a Dicamba trade as well?

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James C. Borel – EVP: First of all as you know, what matters to a farmer is a product that really performs and has the kind of flexibility and yield performance that they are looking for, and so the agreement with Monsanto is a nice addition. It gives us additional product options, additional modes of weed control to be able to offer and we expect that that, plus the stacking flexibility will help enable us to make even better performing products that will give more value to customers over time. So, I think overall we feel really good about the opportunities that it allows us to pursue.


Acquisition Pipeline

Brian Maguire – Goldman Sachs: It’s actually Brian Maguire on for Bob today. Question about the balance sheet. Following the divestiture of the Coatings business, it significantly strengthened, and with about $6.5 billion of cash. It seems like you have a lot to deploy. I was just hoping for an update on how the acquisition pipeline is looking and what kind of acquisitions you would be looking to pursue in this environment…

Ellen Kullman – Chair of the Board and CEO: We have been really consistent about how we talked about acquisitions. There are things that really have to advance either our science or market penetration in key markets where we see our science is going to make a difference. So, I think you have seen that. Whether it is in large ones like Danisco or whether it is in small ones like Pannar, which gives us the opportunity to extend well into sub-Saharan Africa with our Agriculture segment or things like Innovalight, which gives us the silicone ink that really enhances the efficiency from a PV standpoint. So, we continue to have a strong activity in the Company looking at various areas; Nutrition & Health, Agriculture, Industrial Biosciences, advanced materials where we think that it’s either science and/or market penetration can help. Let me just be clear about what I am looking for. I am looking to create trajectory or momentum. I am looking to create a greater opportunity for our Company by doing this, not just creating bulk, but really creating momentum. So we do see acquisition as being an important part of our growth plan going forward and continue to focus on those areas.

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Brian Maguire – Goldman Sachs: One follow-up if I might, just on the TiO2 business. It looked like your volume is up sequentially 8%, a little bit better than you were guiding for last quarter to be kind of flat. Do you think that you’re taking some market share in there or is that just more reflective of the overall market improving that much?

Nicholas C. Fanandakis – EVP and CFO: I think when you look at what’s going on in the TiO2, it’s really playing out very much like we had anticipated. The destocking from our customer inventory levels; that’s at a normal basis now, so that is done. I think there is still some inventory levels from a producer side based on published data that’s out there that suggests that that still has some work to be done but it’s moving in the right direction, and it’s in line with the statement when we say that we believe things will hit that stable normal level by the end of the first half of this year.

A Closer Look: E.I du Pont de Nemours Earnings Cheat Sheet>>