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Air Liquide Sees 2013 Earnings Growth as First-Half Profit Slips

Air Liquide SA (AI), the French maker of industrial gases, reiterated its forecast for profit growth in 2013 as sales rebounded in the second quarter.

Net income declined to 752 million euros ($997 million) in the first half from 784 million euros a year earlier amid a 50-million euro restructuring charge linked to job cuts in Europe, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of five analysts was 736 million euros. Adjusted operating profit climbed 0.9 percent.

The operating performance “is the result of the improvement in activity observed in the second quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in the statement. “Baring 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.

Air Liquide’s second-quarter sales of gas and services rose 5.6 percent, excluding the effects of natural-gas prices, and currency shifts.

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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