Air Liquide Maintains 2013 Profit Growth Outlook as Sales Drop

Air Liquide SA (AI), the French maker of industrial gases, reiterated its forecast for profit growth in 2013 after saying that first-quarter sales dropped on exchange rates and natural gas prices.

Revenue fell 2.1 percent to 3.7 billion euros ($4.81 billion), the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts was 3.90 billion euros. Sales of gas and services, excluding the effects of natural-gas prices, currency shifts, calendar effects, customer settlements paid a year earlier, and acquisitions or disposals, increased 4.9 percent.

“In an economic environment that remains contrasted, the first quarter saw the pursuit of growth investments and an increase in our underlying growth in Gas and Services,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said. “Barring a degradation of the environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2013.”

The CEO has said he will unveil a strategy this December to manage the challenges of Europe’s economic woes, growing industrial capacity in emerging markets, cheaper U.S. gas, and rising demand for health-care services and electronic goods such as tablets. In February, the group raised its savings target for the period from 2011 to 2015 by 30 percent to 1.3 billion euros.

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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