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Shares of DuPont (DD - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high of $68.25 on Apr 2, eclipsing its previous high of $67.96. Its shares clocked $68.12 at the end of the trading session on that day.

The Delaware-based chemical giant, which has a market cap of roughly $63 billion, has seen its shares pop roughly 43% over a year. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months is around 4,584K.

What’s Driving DuPont?

DuPont ended 2013 on a high note having beaten earnings expectations every quarter during the year, thanks to its fast-growing agriculture business. The company topped earnings expectations in the fourth quarter of 2013, reported on Jan 28, as strength in agriculture more than offset weakness in its performance chemicals business.

DuPont, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, is seeing strength in its agriculture business, reflected by higher corn seeds and crop protection sales. Its Agriculture segment saw double-digit rise in sales in the fourth quarter boosted by healthy insecticide sales in Latin America and earlier seed shipments, aided by the company’s acquisition of a majority stake in Pannar Seed (Pty) Limited.
DuPont is witnessing healthy demand for its corn hybrids and expects continued strong growth in crop protection driven by new products. The company gained more than a point in the North American corn market share last year driven by strong performance in its Pioneer seed business. DuPont has numerous new products in its pipeline that are expected to create value for its customers.  
Moreover, DuPont continues to pursue aggressive cost reduction initiatives. The company successfully reached its cost savings target of $300 million for 2013 from its restructuring actions.
DuPont also has a healthy balance sheet and remains committed to boost shareholder returns. The company, in Jan 2014, announced a $5 billion share repurchase program, of which, shares worth $2 billion are expected to be bought back in 2014.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other companies in the chemical industry with favorable Zacks Rank include Methanex Corporation (MEOH - Analyst Report), The Dow Chemical Company (DOW - Analyst Report) and Olin Corp. (OLN - Snapshot Report). While Methanex retains a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both Dow and Olin hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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