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Diversified chemicals manufacturer and Dow-30 component DuPont (DD Free DuPont Stock Report) has released its third-quarter results this morning. The company reported favorable comparisons for the recent interim, with sales of $7.7 billion and share earnings of $0.45, with the latter measure slightly exceeding the consensus view and our own expectation for the period. DuPont stock was little changed on the news.

In the September period, the top line benefited from strong volume growth, despite a modest decline in prices. Specifically, agriculture sales advanced 15%, driven by greater insecticide volumes and higher seed prices in Latin America. Healthy top-line growth, and a gain resulting from the acquisition of a controlling interest in Pannar Seed Ltd., reduced the Agriculture segment's quarterly loss to $62 million.

Meanwhile, the Electronics & Communications line posted moderate sales growth and an impressive advance in operating earnings, thanks to an improvement in demand from the photovoltaic market. Elsewhere, higher sales of Sorona polymer for carpeting and apparel boosted results at the Industrial Biosciences segment. Too, the Safety & Protection and Performance Materials lines also posted favorable results.

We expect DuPont's solid performance to continue into the fourth quarter. Though a near-term pickup in industrial demand appears unlikely, we look for a modest top-line advance and a considerable share-net improvement in the final period of 2013. Indeed, we have increased our estimates for the full year, and now anticipate sales and share earnings of $35 billion and $3.80, respectively.

Looking further out, we envision solid growth for the company from 2014 onward. DuPont remains well positioned in the markets that it serves, and management has a good track record for directing resources to segments with attractive growth potential. These include agriculture and nutrition, advanced materials, and bio-based industrials. Moreover, cost-control measures should further support earnings. However, as a diversified manufacturer of chemicals, the company will probably continue to be affected by unevenness in the global economy. Nevertheless, we like this issue. DuPont earns favorable marks for Safety, Financial Strength, and Price Stability. The stock offers worthwhile total-return potential out to 2016-2018, though a pullback in the share price may present a more attractive entry point.

About The Company: Du Pont is engaged in science and technology in a range of disciplines, including high performance materials, electronics, safety and security, and biotechnology. The company operates on a global scale, manufacturing a wide range of products for distribution and sale to many different markets, including automotive, construction, agricultural, medical, protective apparel, electronics and nutrition.

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.