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Air Liquide Predicts Earnings Growth in 2013 on More Cost Cuts

Air Liquide SA, the French company that competes with Germany’s Linde AG in sales of industrial gases, forecast a rising profit for 2013 as it seeks more cost cuts.

The company today raised its savings target for the 2011 to 2015 time period by 30 percent to 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion). Last year, so-called efficiencies amounted to 284 million euros, exceeding Air Liquide’s goal of 200 million euros, the company said in a statement. Net income in 2012 climbed 4.9 percent to 1.61 billion euros, matching the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts.

“Barring a degradation of the environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2013,” said Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier.

Air Liquide bought French and Spanish providers of medical gases and services last year as it plans to lift sales by 8 percent to 10 percent on average through 2015. Potier is also seeking to boost investments in China, Russia, the Middle East and other fast-growing regions to meet rising demand for oxygen, hydrogen and other gases used by the oil-and-gas industry and chemicals makers.

Sales last year increased 6 percent to 15.3 billion euros, helped by acquisitions. Like-for-like sales of gas and services, which provide the bulk of Air Liquide’s revenue, rose 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter. The company will propose a dividend of 2.5 euros per share, in line with a Bloomberg forecast.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francois de Beaupuy in Paris at fdebeaupuy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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