Net sales increased 5% to $21.5 billion, with growth in most operating segments and geographic regions, from pro forma net sales of $20.5 billion in the year-ago period. The Materials Science division increased sales 17%, with double-digit gains in all segments and gains in all regions. The Specialty Products division increased sales 11%, with gains in most segments and all regions.
These increases more than offset a decline in Agriculture sales of 25% driven by weather-related delays to planting seasons in the Northern Hemisphere and Brazil. Net sales included a 4% benefit from currency, primarily from the euro.
Operating EBITDA increased 6% on a pro forma basis from the year-ago period to $4.9 billion. The Materials Science division achieved 23% operating EBITDA growth, with double-digit gains in all segments. The Specialty Products division delivered 25% operating EBITDA growth, with double-digit gains in most segments.
The company achieved cost synergy savings of more than $300 million in the first quarter, ahead of its run-rate plan and now on pace to deliver a 75% run-rate against its $3.3 billion cost synergy commitment by the end of the third quarter of 2018.
“We delivered solid first-quarter sales and operating earnings gains, while our teams advanced the intended business separations,” said Ed Breen, CEO of DowDuPont. “The Materials Science and Specialty Products divisions delivered better-than-expected top- and bottom-line growth with higher prices and volume gains, including value adding product innovations. Their growth more than offset weather-related delays that are expected to shift a substantial portion of our Agriculture earnings to the second quarter. And we continue to expect Materials Science to spin by the end of the first quarter of 2019, with Agriculture and Specialty Products separating by June 1, 2019. These will be three world-class companies equipped to further their leadership positions in attractive growth markets.”
“The global economy continues to show solid momentum and broad-based growth, driven by consumer-led demand in both developed and developing economies,” said Howard Ungerleider, CFO of DowDuPont. “There are discrete headwinds, including continued volatility in our input costs and weather-related softness in agriculture. However, leading indicators from manufacturing output, to improving energy markets, to employment and consumer spending remain largely positive, reflecting increased economic activity.”
“Our portfolio benefits from these macro trends, and we see our innovations and growth investments driving above-market growth. We see this strength continuing into the second quarter. We expect second quarter net sales to be up more than 10% and operating EBITDA up more than 20% year-over-year.”