DuPont cuts 1,500 jobs after sharp drop in Q3 earnings image

DuPont Company announced on Tuesday that it will cut about 1,500 jobs and take other steps to improve competitiveness.

Weak demand for a key industrial pigment and uncertainty in the solar panel market led to a sharp drop in third-quarter earnings.

From July through September, the chemical company reported net income of $10 million, compared with $452 million for the same period last year. Revenue from continuing operations totaled about $7.4 billion, down 9 percent from $8.1 billion. DuPont shares were down nearly 9 percent in afternoon trading amid a broad market decline.

CEO Ellen Kullman attributed the disappointing results to weaker-than-expected demand for titanium dioxide – a whitening pigment used in products ranging from paint and plastics to toothpaste – and overcapacity and uncertainty in the market for photovoltaic solar energy products. Kullman noted that volumes were up by 3 percent year-over-year, excluding the business units that produce titanium dioxide and solar materials.

DuPont is working on a restructuring plan that Kullman said will deliver pretax cost savings of about $450 million. The restructuring includes eliminating about 1,500 positions globally over the next 12 to 18 months. The cuts involve streamlining headquarters and corporate staffs that supported the performance coatings unit, which produces automotive and industrial paints. It’s being sold for $4.9 billion to The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.