WILMINGTON, Del. -- Third quarter underlying earnings were $.40 per share compared to $.12 earned in the third quarter 2001, Dupont reported. These earnings included a $.14 per share benefit from a lower estimated full-year 2002 tax rate.

Including one-time items, third quarter 2002 earnings per share were $.47 compared to $.13 in the third quarter 2001.

Segment sales were $6.2 billion. Sales were 4 percent higher than last year, reflecting 6 percent higher volume, partly offset by 2 percent lower U.S. dollar selling prices, according to Dupont.

Third quarter after-tax operating income (ATOI) before one-time items increased 76 percent versus third quarter last year, principally reflecting higher volumes, lower raw material and fixed costs, and a lower effective income tax rate. Significant earnings gains were recorded by the Performance Materials, Coatings & Color Technologies, and Textiles & Interiors segments.

For the quarter, consolidated sales totaled $5.5 billion compared to $5.6 billion in 2001. Segment sales, including transfers and a pro rata share of sales by equity affiliates, were $6.2 billion, down 2 percent from $6.4 billion in 2001. On a comparable business basis, sales increased 4 percent reflecting 6 percent higher volume, partly offset by 2 percent lower U.S. dollar selling prices.

Net income, including one-time items, was $469 million, compared to $142 million in the third quarter of 2001, resulting in earnings per share of $.47 compared to $.13 last year. Year-to-date 2002 reported earnings before the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle were $1.49 per share versus comparable earnings of $.39 per share last year. After reflecting a noncash cumulative effect charge of $2.95 per share for impairment to goodwill related to acquisitions in previous years, year-to-date 2002 results were a loss of $1.46 per share compared to earnings of $.40 per share for the nine months of 2001.

For the quarter, net income before one-time items was $401 million versus $128 million in 2001, or $.40 per share and $.12 per share, respectively. The increase in underlying earnings per share reflects improved segment ATOI, principally in the Performance Materials, Coatings & Color Technologies and Textiles & Interiors segments, and significantly lower net interest expense. In addition to higher volumes and lower costs, improved results reflect a lower effective tax rate due to benefit from geographic mix of earnings and other tax planning initiatives.