DuPont CEO steps down, firm low­ers guid­ance


U. S.- based DuPont Co. on Mon­day an­nounced that CEO and Chair­woman Ellen Kull­man, who ear­lier this year fought off a bruis­ing chal­lenge from a ma­jor ac­tivist in­vestor, will re­tire at the end of next week.

The maker of ev­ery­thing from Pi­o­neer agri­cul­tural seeds to Kevlar fab­ric also low­ered its profit forecast and said it is ac­cel­er­at­ing its cost- cut­ting plan.

Ed­ward Breen, who was named to DuPont’s board in Fe­bru­ary, will serve as Kull­man’s in­terim re­place­ment while the com­pany searches for a per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor.

Kull­man, 59, took over the CEO job at DuPont in 2009. The fi­nal months of her ten­ure were marked by the bat­tle with ac­tivist in­vestor and ma­jor share­holder Nel­son Peltz, whose Trian Fund had sought more in­flu­ence at DuPont, say­ing that the com­pany was fall­ing short of its po­ten­tial.

In June, DuPont share­hold­ers re­jected Peltz’s con­tentious cam­paign for seats on the board of the 213- year- old com­pany.

DuPont even­tu­ally spun off its per­for­mance- chem­i­cals unit ear­lier this sum­mer into a sep­a­rate busi­ness named The Che­mours Co.

The Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware, com­pany also low­ered its profit out­look again on Mon­day, say­ing it now ex­pects op­er­at­ing earn­ings per share for the full year of about US$ 2.75, com­pared with prior guid­ance of US$ 3.10. In July, it cut its full- year out­look to US$ 3.10 per share from US$ 4. An­a­lysts sur­veyed by Fac­tSet ex­pect an­nual earn­ings per share of US$ 3.19, on av­er­age.

The low­ered out­look re­flects con­tin­ued strength­en­ing of the U.S. dol­lar ver­sus cur­ren­cies in emerg­ing mar­kets, par­tic­u­larly in Brazil, and a fur­ther weak­en­ing of agri­cul­tural mar­kets, also pri­mar­ily in Brazil, the com­pany said.

DuPont now ex­pects sec­ond­half op­er­at­ing earn­ings per share of about 40 cents, down from its prior guid­ance of 75 cents.

The com­pany also said it was mov­ing up by one year its tar­get of cut­ting ex­penses by US$ 1.3 bil­lion on a run- rate ba­sis, to the end of 2016. It’s tar­get­ing US$ 1.6 bil­lion in cost- sav­ings on a run- rate ba­sis by the end of 2017. It did not de­tail its ac­tions but said it would fi­nal­ize its cost- cut­ting plans in the fourth quar­ter.


In this Dec. 18, 2014 file photo, Dupont Co. Chair­woman and CEO Ellen Kull­man speaks about global com­pet­i­tive­ness and the im­por­tance of in­no­va­tion, at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions in New York.

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