(Adds comments from conf. call, details on results, background)
By Arathy S Nair and Nishara Karuvalli Pathikkal
Oct 31 (Reuters) - Industrial materials maker DuPont's quarterly profit edged past analysts' estimates on Thursday and sales in China improved for the second quarter in a row, sending shares up 3.5%.
Sales in China, which accounted for about 15% of total revenue, were driven by higher demand for a film used in newer smartphones and helped offset weakness in its electronic and automotive sectors.
A protracted trade dispute between the United States and China as well as fears of a global economic slowdown have been weighing on DuPont and rivals Germany's BASF and Dow inc.
Chief Executive Officer Marc Doyle said destocking in semiconductors, used in everything from consumer electronics to data centers, was now behind and there were indications of demand stabilizing in the automotive sector.
To offset the weak macro environment, chemical companies have been relying on costs cuts to boost profits. Dupont said it slashed $145 million in costs in the third quarter and was on track to deliver more than $500 million for the full year.
The company's core operating margins improved 20 basis points, while cost of sales declined 4.5%.
Shares of DuPont, which makes everything from adhesives and resins to probiotics, rose as much as 3.3% to $67.75 in morning trading.
Net sales fell 4.5% to $5.43 billion, with volumes impacted by a slowdown in both the automotive and semiconductor end markets.
Sales in China declined only 2% in the third quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 3% fall in the second quarter and 10% in the first.
Net income from continuing operations available for DuPont shareholders stood at $367 million, or 49 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30.
On a proforma basis, the company earned $73 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period last year.
Excluding items, the company earned 96 cents per share, above analysts' average estimate of 95 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Dupont, which had raised its full-year profit forecast in August, also narrowed its estimate for proforma adjusted earnings per share to between $3.77 and $3.82, from its prior forecast of $3.75 and $3.85 per share. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur)