First-quarter profits for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. beat Wall Street expectations, helped by price hikes and strong sales of insecticides and genetically modified seeds, Reuters reported. The company reaffirmed its 2012 earnings target, with CEO Ellen Kullman saying DuPont will prioritize research and development spending on food, energy and security products. The company this morning posted net income of $1.49 billion, or $1.57 per share, compared with $1.43 billion, or $1.52 per share, a year earlier. Agriculture sales rose 16 percent as farmers stocked up ahead of the North American spring planting season.