May 3 (Reuters) - DowDuPont Inc reported a higher-than-expected first-quarter profit on Thursday as increased prices for its products and demand for packaging, paint and other materials made up for a weak agriculture business.
The chemical producer, formed by the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont last year, clocked up net sales of $21.5 billion for the quarter, which the company said compared to what would have been net sales of $20.5 billion if DowDuPont had been one company in the same quarter a year ago.
Adjusted earnings rose 7 percent to $1.12 per share, ahead of analysts' average estimate of $1.10, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"The Materials Science and Specialty Products divisions delivered better-than-expected top- and bottom-line growth with higher prices and volume gains," Chief Executive Ed Breen said in a statement.
"Their growth more than offset weather-related delays that are expected to shift a substantial portion of our agriculture earnings to the second quarter."
The chemical giant said overall sales volumes fell 2 percent, but prices rose 3 percent on a comparable basis.
The materials science unit, which makes chemicals that go into making everything from cosmetics to packaging material to brake fluids, saw sales rise 17 percent, on the back of a 8 percent rise in volumes.
Its specialty products unit, which makes products that go into making construction materials or the semiconductors and chips used in mobile phones, saw sales rise 11 percent. The two divisions offset a slide of 25 percent in the agriculture division. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; editing by Patrick Graham and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)