DuPont CFO Likely to Focus on Cutting Costs, Regaining Investor Confidence

Date : 02/18/2020 @ 10:58PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : DuPont de Nemours Inc (DD)
Quote : 34.1  0.0 (0.00%) @ 1:00AM

DuPont CFO Likely to Focus on Cutting Costs, Regaining Investor Confidence

DuPont de Nemours (NYSE:DD)
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By Nina Trentmann 

DuPont de Nemours Inc.'s new finance chief is expected to help the industrial-materials maker cut costs and regain investor confidence as it faces weaker demand in some of its markets.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company on Tuesday named Lori D. Koch to the role of chief financial officer, effective immediately. Ms. Koch, a 17-year company veteran, previously led the finances of several DuPont businesses and most recently served as vice president of investor relations and corporate financial planning and analysis.

Her appointment comes as part of a wider management shuffle that reinstalled Edward D. Breen at the top of the company and removed Chief Executive Officer Marc Doyle and CFO Jeanmarie Desmond less than a year after they took over.

Mr. Breen played a key role in a blockbuster merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., announced in 2015, and led the combined company from 2017. He became the executive chairman of DuPont in 2019 after the conglomerate split into three separate companies.

Ms. Koch has worked closely with Mr. Breen and is a successful communicator -- a skill that could be an advantage in her new role, analysts said.

DuPont, which produces materials for a host of products -- including solar cells, bullet-proof vests, biofuels and nutritional probiotics -- in recent months has suffered from declining investor confidence after it missed expectations and cut its guidance. Sales fell 5% in 2019, DuPont said last month. DuPont's share price is down about 16% since the beginning of the year.

The biggest challenge facing Ms. Koch will be recovering investor confidence, said Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst at brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "Investors felt the previous management team was not transparent enough," he said.

As head of investor relations, Ms. Koch had an active outreach program and knew what investors wanted to know, said Scott Davis, chairman and CEO of Melius Research LLC, a research firm.

Mr. Breen and Ms. Koch are expected to accelerate the pace of restructuring at DuPont while exploring new areas for growth, analysts said.

The company took pricing and cost actions in 2019, executives said during a January earnings call. DuPont has not set out an exact cost-cutting target yet.

"Productivity efforts will likely be supplemented by more aggressive scrutiny of cost leakage," analysts at investment bank Jefferies Financial Group LLC wrote in a note to clients.

DuPont in December said it would combine its nutrition and biosciences business with International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.

"Lori has proven to be a great partner to Ed during her time in investor relations and they will continue to work together closely as she takes on the CFO role," DuPont said in a statement. The company added that "her immediate priorities are getting the company back on a trajectory of growth, restoring operational discipline to the organization and delivering expectations for 2020 on all financial metrics."

Write to Nina Trentmann at Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 18, 2020 17:43 ET (22:43 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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