E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD)’s fourth-quarter profit doubled beating market estimates and announced a new $5 billion share buyback program.

DuPont

E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) posted strong fourth quarter results propelled by higher margins at its businesses that sell seeds and make materials for solar panels.

The largest U.S. chemical maker also unveiled a new $5 billion share repurchase plan.

DuPont’s strong operating earnings

E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD)’s operating earnings per share, excluding one-off items, were $0.59 in the fourth-quarter, surpassing the average of analysts’ estimates of about $0.55 and nearly three times the $0.20 reported for the equivalent period of 2012. Its operating earnings per share for the full year 2013 were up 3% at $3.88, on revenues also up 3% at $35.7 billion.

However, DuPont’s results were affected by the earlier timing of seed deliveries that were shifted from 2014 to 2013, which added about $0.09 to earnings per share.

Agriculture – the best performing division

The chemical maker’s agriculture unit, which supplies farmers with seeds and fertilizers, has turned out to be its biggest business by sales. For the first time in four years, the unit was profitable in the fourth-quarter, aided by strong insecticide sales in Latin America and earlier seed shipments to Brazilian and North American farmers. The business posted operating earnings of $88 million, as against $77 million loss reported last year.

The company is concentrating on growing its high-margin agriculture, food, specialty materials, and alternative energy businesses. E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) has outlined plans to spin off its volatile performance chemicals unit.

Transformation to a higher value company

In October, E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) advanced its transformation to a higher growth, higher value company as its Board authorized management to execute a full separation of its Performance Chemicals segment.  With an even clearer focus on science-driven growth, DuPont will advance its unique integrated capabilities in biology, chemistry and materials science to further strengthen its industry leading positions in agriculture and nutrition, bio-based industrials and advanced materials.

Interestingly, fellow chemicals company The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) has also been working on shedding some businesses to focus on higher-growth areas. DuPont recently sold its performance coatings business to Carlyle Group L.P. for $4.9 billion, and agreed to sell its glass laminating and vinyls business to chemicals company Kuraray Co for $543 million.

E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) also unveiled a new $5 billion share repurchase plan replacing the previous one. The company anticipates to repurchase $2 billion in 2014, with the rest repurchased over time with no required completion date.