July 30, 2020 / 10:02 AM / in 16 days

DuPont takes $2.5 bln charge tied to auto business, posts wider loss

July 30 (Reuters) - DuPont reported a wider second-quarter loss on Thursday and wrote down the value of its automotive business by $2.5 billion as the industrial materials giant struggles with a prolonged weakness in one of its biggest end-markets.

DuPont, which makes materials used in products ranging from engine covers to brake fluid, is heavily exposed to the auto industry, which has been among the hardest hit after the coronavirus lockdowns emptied roads and shuttered car showrooms.

The company booked the impairment charge under its Transportation & Industrial segment, which reported the sharpest decline in sales at 34%, saying the business was now worth less because of continued weakness in global automotive production.

Even before the outbreak, DuPont had been grappling with lower sales in the unit, particularly due to lower prices for nylon, a stiff plastic used in making auto parts and industrial equipment.

However, its nutrition and electronics units benefited from robust demand for food ingredients and memory chips with both businesses reporting growth in organic sales.

Expecting a modest revival in automotive and residential construction industries, DuPont projected adjusted earnings between 71 and 73 cents for the current quarter, marginally above the 71 cents estimated by analysts according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net loss available to shareholders, which included the hefty charge, was $2.48 billion, or $3.37 per share, in the three months ended June 30 compared to a loss of $571 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, DuPont posted earnings of 70 cents per share, a fall of about 28% as the company idled some of its plants to match lower demand levels.

The Wilmington, Delaware-based company, once part of the conglomerate DowDuPont that was split up last year, reported a 12% fall in sales to $4.8 billion. (Reporting by Taru Jain in Bengaluru Editing by Arathy Nair and Tomasz Janowski)

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