UPDATE 1-DuPont sees strong 2021 on robust demand from chip, smartphone makers

(Adds CEO comments from conference call, shares)

Feb 9 (Reuters) - DuPont on Tuesday forecast full-year profit and revenue above Wall Street expectations on the back of robust demand from chip companies and smartphone makers launching 5G handsets.

Sales in the company’s electronics and imaging business, which accounts for about 20% of total revenue, rose 9% to $1.02 billion in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

The industrial material maker, once part of the erstwhile chemical giant DowDuPont, forecast 2021 adjusted earnings of $3.30 to $3.45 per share, above the $3.07 analysts had estimated, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Net sales estimates of between $15.40 billion and $15.60 billion also came in above analysts’ expectations of $15.11 billion.

DuPont’s transportation and industrial business reported an about 1% rise in net sales to $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, helped by a recovery in auto sales from the early pandemic hit.

On an earnings call, however, Chief Executive Officer Edward Breen warned of a $60 million to $80 million hit to the segment in the first quarter due a shortage of raw materials.

DuPont expects net sales between $3.75 billion and $3.85 billion and profit of 75 cents to 77 cents per share in the first quarter. Analysts on average were expecting a profit 65 cents per share and revenue of $3.69 billion.

DuPont’s shares fell as much as 2.5% to $73.86, reversing from gains before the bell, after the company also said it would not make any large divestment in the year.

The company plans to spend up to $2.5 billion of its $5 billion to $6 billion expected cash on mergers and acquisitions.

It was working on two targets, DuPont said, adding it was more biased toward the electronics sector and to the electric vehicle space on the automotive side. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)