January 30, 2020 / 11:47 AM / 24 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Corteva posts surprise profit on higher N. America volume, Latam prices

(Corrects analysts’ estimates for 2020 in paragraph 5, 6)

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Corteva posted a surprise profit on Thursday, helped by higher sales of a new herbicide and better pricing in Latin America for some of its seeds as well as cost savings.

The upbeat fourth-quarter results follows a difficult start to 2019 that saw historic flooding in U.S. Midwest and lower demand from China due to trade war, which stretched into late December before a preliminary deal was signed.

Volumes rose 6% in the quarter, boosted by higher seed sales in North America and strong demand for its new herbicide Enlist ahead of the 2020 planting season. Local price rose 3%, with higher prices in Latin America offsetting a weaker Brazilian Real.

The company, which has been cutting costs since its spin off from chemical conglomerate DowDupont in June, said it saved about $50 million in the quarter and was on track to deliver $1.2 billion by 2021.

The company said it expects full-year operating profit between $1.45 and $1.55 per share, while analysts’ had forecast estimates of $1.48, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

It forecast 2020 sales of about $14.5 billion, above estimates of $14.43 billion.

Net loss from continuing operations attributable to Corteva came in at $45 million, or 6 cents per share, compared with $752 million, or $1 per share, a year earlier, when it booked charges related to integration and separation.

Excluding items, Corteva reported operating earnings of 7 cents a share, while analysts’ had expected a loss of 12 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net sales rose 6% to $2.98 billion, beating expectations of $2.92 billion. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)

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