DuPont emblemEven though DuPont's automotive paints, or "performance coating," division brought in 12.1 percent of the firm's 2010 revenue, the pretax operating-profit margin was only seven percent, said to be about "half the corporate average." With the highly diversified firm making plays in more lucrative "megatrend" areas, Automotive News reports that DuPont has retained Credit Suisse to find a buyer for its two coatings divisions valued at $3-4 billion.

An analyst has said selling the units will improve the portfolio, but the question is what other company will have the will (and the financial wherewithal) to take them. DuPont says it wants to up the division's profit margins to ten percent in 2012, but with automakers still hammering supplier prices, it will take some healthy productivity engineering to make that happen. Credit Suisse hasn't begun the sale process yet, but a buyer could be sought among the other three large auto-coatings companies, PPG, BASF and Arko Nobel.