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DuPont Posts $605M Quarter Loss

October 21, 1998

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ DuPont reported a $605 million third-quarter loss that the chemical and life sciences company attributed mainly to its buyout of Merck’s interest in a joint pharmaceutical venture.

DuPont reported a net loss of 54 cents a share compared to a loss of $17 million, or 2 cents a share, for the third quarter of 1997. The loss included a $1.21 charge per share for one-time items, of which 74 cents was attributed to the Merck buyout.

Without the $1.21 charge, Dupont would have reported earnings of 67 cents a share. Before one-time costs, DuPont posted profits in the third quarter of 1997 of 85 cents a share.

Investors showed their displeasure with the report by pushing down DuPont’s shares $2.62 1/2 or 4 percent to $61.56 1/4 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Months before the quarterly report, DuPont president and chief executive officer Charles O. Holliday had warned investors that lower oil prices and the Asian financial crisis would continue to hurt the company.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, DuPont had income of $1.3 billion, down significantly from the $2.1 billion in income reported at the same time last year.

``The combination of lower demand from weakening global economies, lower oil prices and the negative impact of a strong U.S. dollar on selling prices resulted in a decline from record third quarter earnings last year,″ Holliday said.

DuPont is preparing the largest-ever initial public offering for Conoco, its petroleum subsidiary, and reported Conoco results in the third-quarter as discontinued operations.

Conoco reported profits of $160 million, or 14 cents per share, down from $256 million, or 22 cents a share last year.

DuPont is in the middle of a major change in focus, splitting off Conoco and concentrating on life sciences, particularly agriculture products and pharmaceuticals.

The charges incurred by the company in the third quarter included a $1.3 billion buyout of Merck’s interest in the DuPont-Merck Pharmaceutical Co., a joint venture that included the launch of the Sustiva AIDS drug.

In addition, the company took a charge of $141 million associated with the purchase of Imperial Chemical Industries’s polyester business, and a $850 million charge in conjunction with DuPont’s acquisition of a 20 percent interest in Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.

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