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DuPont Expects Farm Business To Pick Up After Severe Winter


April 17 (Reuters) - Chemicals maker DuPont expects its agriculture business to grow this quarter as farmers buy seeds and insecticides after a delayed start to planting season in North America, which hurt the company's revenue in the first quarter.

Shares of DuPont, a Dow 30 component, were down about 1 percent at $67.19 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

DuPont said it expected "modest" growth in sales and "significant" growth in operating earnings in its agriculture business in the current quarter.

Sales in the agriculture business, DuPont's biggest, fell 6 percent, the first decline in 10 quarters, as farmers put off purchases due to a colder-than-usual winter.

"Impact of the weather pushed a lot of the agriculture demand out of the quarter and into the second quarter," SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst James Sheehansaid.

DuPont's operating earnings fell 5 percent to $1.44 billion in the agriculture business.

Farmers' plans to sow more soybean than corn this year is also hurting DuPont as corn is more profitable for the company and corn plantings need more pesticides.

DuPont said lower-than-expected corn plantings in BrazilNorth America andUkraine would likely hurt its farm unit in the first half of the year.

However, Chief Executive Ellen Kullman told reporters on a call that the company's "growth fundamentals in agriculture continue to be excellent both in the United States and on a global basis."