WILMINGTON, Del. -- DuPont Co., the largest chemical company in the U.S., met a profit today as increased consumer spending on home improvements such as carpet helped lift the company's sales volumes.

DuPont posted net income of $543 million, or 54 cents per share in the second-quarter. Last year, it recorded a net loss of $213 million, or 21 cents per share, from problems including job cuts, plant shutdowns and asset write-downs.

Excluding special items, Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont earned 71 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a profit of 66 cents a share, with estimates ranging from 65 cents a share to 68 cents a share, according to tracking firm Thomson First Call.

DuPont said in late June its second-quarter profits would beat analyst estimates. The consensus forecast then was for a profit of 56 cents per share, according to Thomson First Call.