DuPont Co. third-quarter sales fell 9% to around $7.4 billion from last year, dropping the chemical giant's earnings to almost break-even, and boss Ellen Kullman announced $450 million in plant, office and job cuts, reducing headcount by about 1,500, with a number of the cuts reducing staff at the company's Wilmington, Del. headquarters.
UPDATE: Separately, Dow Chemical says it's laying off 2,400 and closing plants in Michigan, Ohio, Europe and Japan. More here and here.
The cuts at Dow and DuPont, in response to weak demand in Europe and elsewhere, tumbled the Dow-Jones Industrials stock benchmark and reminds us that the U.S. manufacturing revival isn't producing large numbers of new jobs, noted James M. Meyer in a report to clients of Boenning & Scattergood, West Conshohohcken.
EARLIER re DuPont: Roughly half the planned job cuts result from eliminating corporate staff that used to support the DuPont Performance Coatings business, which is being sold to Carlyle Group for around $5 billion, before tax. (DuPont plans to use the proceeds of that sale to pay down debt and boost dividends, and maybe for acquisitions or new research.) The rest result from "productivity" cutbacks.
Kullman blamed "continued weak market conditions in Europe and uncertainty in Asia" especially in "performance chemicals, electronics and communications," outweighing "strong" pesticide, bioscience, smartphone materials and Latin American sales. Sales of titanium dioxide, a whitener and basic component in paints and plastics and one of DuPont's most profitable products, reduced shipments from DuPont's titanium plant in Edgemoor, Del., and other locations.