NEW YORK CITY -- Chemical giant DuPont (IW 500/36) posted Tuesday results that were better than the market expected for 2012, and was optimistic for this year even though its net profit lost almost 20% to $2.78 billion.

For 2013, DuPont said that sales should climb to about $36 billion, but revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2012, its net profit was more than three times lower than the figure for the same period in 2011, at $111 million.

Expressed in terms of profit per share excluding exceptional items, DuPont posted a 2012 figure of $3.33, which was better than an average analyst forecast of $3.29.

For 2013, DuPont said it should turn in a profit per share of between $3.85 and $4.05, better than a forecast of $3.84 owing to investments in the agriculture, nutrition, bioscience, industrial, and advanced material sectors.

Emerging markets helped the group post 2012 sales of $35.31 billion, for an annualized gain of 2.6%,  though negative foreign exchange effects undermined sales in the fourth quarter, as they fell slightly to $7.57 billion.

"DuPont stands stronger today than it did a year ago," DuPont chair and chief executive Ellen Kullman was quoted as saying, as she pointed to savings realized though the integration of various company segments.

But Kullman also acknowledged weakness in chemicals, and electronics and communications markets that are important to DuPont and said the company had "adjusted our plans to meet the changing market environment and grow our businesses in a slow-growth world economy."

In October, DuPont decided to restructure some of its activities owing to weakening demand and falling prices for products produced by its key agriculture division.

The plan is designed to save about $450 million per year before taxes, in large part through the elimination of 1,500 jobs worldwide, and is expected to cost around $210 million.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013