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DuPont to Jettison Glass Laminating & Vinyls Biz

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DuPont has put up another business for sale as part of its ongoing efforts to switch focus to high-margin businesses. The Delaware-based chemical giant has agreed to divest its glass laminating solutions and vinyls business (“GLS/Vinyls”) to Japan-based synthetic and chemical fibers maker Kuraray for $543 million. The business is a part of DuPont’s Packaging & Industrial Polymers unit.

GLS/Vinyls, which raked in revenues of over $500 million in 2012, is a prominent supplier of polyvinyl butyral and ionomer sheets for safety glass as well as vinyl acetate monomer and polyvinyl alcohol products used in an array of architectural, automotive and industrial applications. The business has roughly 600 employees with six manufacturing facilities across the U.S., Europe and Asia, serving over 350 customers globally.

DuPont’s Packaging & Industrial Polymers unit offers material-based solutions to packaging, safety glass and polymer compounding industries. It makes an extensive range of adhesive, barrier, peelable lidding and sealant resins.

The sale, which is subject to regulatory clearances, is expected to consummate during first-half 2014. In addition to the purchase price, Kuraray will also pay for the value of inventories. The buyout will help Kuraray to fortify its vinyl acetate business leveraging DuPont’s technology, talented GLS/Vinyls team and manufacturing and sales network.

The move reflects a part of DuPont’s strategy to gradually shift its focus to high growth businesses, including agriculture, in an effort to cut its exposure to low-margin businesses.

DuPont's Board, last month, approved the spin off of its struggling performance chemicals unit. The company, earlier this year, sold its performance coatings business to equity firm The Carlyle Group (CG - Free Report) for $4.9 billion in cash.

DuPont’s performance chemicals business was a weak spot in the third quarter of 2013. Demand of titanium dioxide (TiO2), which is used to give paint and other coatings a white hue, remains weak, partly due to challenging economic conditions in Europe. Lower TiO2 pricing hurt the results in the performance chemical business in the third quarter.

On the other hand, DuPont is seeing strength in its agriculture business, reflected by higher corn seeds and crop protection sales. Despite higher input costs, the Agriculture segment saw double-digit rise sales in the third quarter boosted by higher volume and strong performance of the crop protection business, aided by the company’s acquisition of a majority stake in Pannar Seed (Pty) Limited.
A strong start in the North American growing season is boosting the agriculture business. DuPont is witnessing healthy demand for its corn hybrids and expects continued strong growth in crop protection driven by new products. The company has numerous new products in its pipeline that are expected to create value for its customers in the years ahead.  

DuPont is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock.

Other companies in the chemical space worth considering include Methanex Corp. (MEOH - Free Report) and Asahi Kasei Corp. (AHKSY - Free Report) with both holding a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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