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DuPont Falls After Keeping Forecast Unchanged: Wilmington Mover

DuPont Co., the most valuable U.S. chemicals producer, fell after disappointing investors who expected the company to raise its 2012 profit forecast after posting higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings.

Dupont dropped as much as 2.2 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Feb. 14, before closing 1.2 percent lower at $52.61 in New York.

Net income rose to $1.57 a share in the three months through March, from $1.52 a year earlier, Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont said today in a statement. Profit excluding costs related to damage caused by the herbicide Imprelis was $1.61, topping the $1.53 average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

A warmer-than-normal spring boosted U.S. and European sales of pesticides and genetically modified seeds, bringing forward to the first quarter 3 cents a share in earnings that would typically occur in the second quarter, Jim Borel, executive vice president of DuPont’s agriculture unit, said on a conference call.

The decision not to raise full-year guidance “might prove disappointing to some investors in light of the strong first-quarter results as it could imply that some of the strength reflected a pull forward of Ag earnings due to the early start to the U.S. planting season,” Don Carson, a New York-based analyst at Susquehanna Financial, said today in a report.

DuPont reiterated its January forecast that adjusted earnings will climb to $4.20 to $4.40 a share this year, from $3.93 in 2011. That compares with the $4.27 average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

DuPont also said first-quarter net sales gained 12 percent to $11.2 billion from $10 billion, matching the average of 12 estimates. The company raised prices for its products by 8 percent on average in the period. Sales volumes fell 2 percent, led by declines in the electronics unit and in the Asia Pacific region.

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