DuPont reports strong earnings; CEO warns of need for deficit reduction

Delaware-based DuPont Company reported stronger than predicted 4th quarter earnings, but its CEO Ellen Kullman says there needs to be a path towards deficit reduction in 2013 or projected economic growth in the U.S. will not happen.

Kullman gave her economic appraisal in satellite interview from WHYY’s Wilmington studio to CNBC’s Squawk Box. She said the U.S. has taken some steps towards deficit reduction, but more needs to be done now. She also said the direction of the world economy will clearer after China finishes its transition in leadership. “I think the economy is going to strengthen as the year goes on, but I think the first year will have a lot of question marks,” Kullman said.

The company reported $34.8 billion in sales worldwide. Its stock earnings beat Wall Street expectations as well. Kullman says the company’s agriculture division deserves much of the credit and should keep the company competitive in 2013. “We are coming out of a strong Latin American season. Year to year our Agriculture sections were up 18% and we are setting up strongly for the North American season in 2013,” the CEO told CNBC.

Kullman predicted the construction economy should be strong in 2013, which should help their Tyvek division, the home insulation product. She wasn’t as bullish about the auto industry. She said the growth in the first of 2013 will be slow and that industry might only grow 2% after a strong 2012.

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But she says it’s all about China. Kullman says reports that China will make major investments in its energy infrastructure, which should in turn help the world economy.

However, in this country, all eyes are going to be on the talks to reduce the deficit. “If there is a time frame (for deficit reduction) and they can make real progress that will be seen as a positive,” she said. But Kullman warned that the deadlines for dealing with the issue are moved out that would be seen as a negative. She said a dialogue needs to be established over the next few months for a framework that can be seen as something substantial for change. 

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