DuPont posted a 61 percent drop in quarterly profit hurt by weak global demand, but cost cuts helped the chemical maker beat Wall Street forecasts.

Second-quarter net income at the largest U.S. chemical maker by market value fell to $421 million, or 46 cents per share, from $1.08 billion, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time charges, earnings were 61 cents per share, topping the 53 cents per share that analysts had on average forecast, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net sales fell 22 percent to $6.86 billion.

DuPont has eliminated 4,500 jobs since late last year as part of its efforts slash costs to cope with the slowdown in demand from the auto, construction and industrial markets. The company said on Tuesday those measures had boosted its earnings by $335 million in the quarter and brought year-to-date savings to $600 million.

The company has targeted cost savings of $1 billion for the year.

Earnings and sales sunk in the quarter at every segment except its agriculture and nutrition business, where sales rose 3 percent and operating profit excluding one-time items climbed 15 percent from a year ago.

The company maintained the 2009 earnings forecast of $1.70 to $2.10 per share, excluding items.

Shares in DuPont, which are up 12 percent so far this year through Monday's close, gained about 1.7 percent in modest premarket trade on Tuesday.

The shares are off 45 percent from last year's highs.

(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Derek Caney)