Fourth-quarter sales were $5.3 billion, down 9 percent versus prior year due to negative impacts from currency (8 percent) and volume (1 percent). Full-year sales were $25.1 billion, down 12 percent versus prior year due to negative impacts from currency (7 percent), portfolio (2 percent) and volume (3 percent). DuPont's board of directors approved a first-quarter dividend of 38 cents per share, the 446th consecutive quarterly dividend since the company's first dividend in the fourth quarter of 1904. The first-quarter dividend of 38 cents per share of common stock is payable on March 14, 2016, to stockholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 12, 2016. Regular quarterly dividends of $1.125 per share on the $4.50 series preferred stock and $0.875 cents per share on the $3.50 series preferred stock also were declared, both payable on April 25, 2016, to stockholders of record as of April 8, 2016.
On Dec. 11, 2015, DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that their boards of directors unanimously approved a definitive agreement under which the companies will combine in an all-stock merger of equals. The combined company will be named DowDuPont. The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and approval by both Dow and DuPont shareholders. The parties intend to subsequently pursue a separation of DowDuPont into three independent, publicly traded companies through tax-free spin-offs. These separations would occur as soon as feasible, subject to regulatory and board approval.
"We are making progress on key initiatives, including further improving our cost structure and restructuring our organization to enhance our competitiveness," said Ed Breen, Chair and CEO of DuPont. "In this pivotal year for DuPont we have three priorities: deliver operating earnings growth while positioning our businesses to compete successfully over the long term; continue to improve our capital allocation and working capital performance; and complete the proposed merger of equals with Dow. Our merger process is on track. We are meeting key milestones and have begun our planning to create three strong, highly focused, independent businesses in agriculture, material science and specialty products."
Summary of business results for each of the company's reportable segments comparing fourth quarter with the prior year.Agriculture - An operating loss of $54 million resulted in $188 million lower operating earnings as increases in local price and cost reductions and continued productivity improvements were more than offset by a $139 million negative currency impact and about a $30 million negative impact from the continued shutdown of the LaPorte manufacturing facility. Prior year results benefitted from a timing impact from performance-based compensation adjustments and $36 million in gains from portfolio actions. Excluding the impact of currency, the segment would have reported operating earnings of $85 million.
Electronics & Communications - Operating earnings of $87 million decreased $5 million, or 5 percent, as cost reductions and continued productivity improvements were more than offset by competitive pressures impacting Solamet paste. Excluding the impact of currency, operating earnings would have decreased by about 10 percent.