Air Liquide Sees 2014 Profit Growth as Euro Hits First Half

Air Liquide SA (AI), the world’s second-largest industrial gas company, reiterated its forecast for profit growth in 2014 as rising demand in the U.S. and emerging markets offset the impact of the stronger euro and a divestment.

The French supplier of oxygen and other gases held profit steady at 755 million euros ($1.01 billion) in the first half, the Paris-based company said in a statement today. Recurring operating income was also little changed at 1.25 billion euros, compared with the average estimate of 1.3 billion euros in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts.

“This performance benefited from regional sources of growth, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and more globally the developing economies, as well as from the pick-up in electronics and the contribution from new unit startups,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in the statement. “Results for the period were impacted by an unfavorable currency translation effect.”

Potier is cutting jobs in France, Germany and Italy to adapt to economic woes in Europe, where he’s expanding in medical gases and healthcare as the population ages. He’s also adding plants in the U.S. and emerging markets to tap demand for industrial gases in fields such as chemicals, refining, and electronics.

Air Liquide shares traded 2.1 percent lower at 96.61 euros as of 9:07 a.m. in Paris.

So-called efficiency gains reached 152 million euros in the first half, Air Liquide said. Second-quarter sales of gas and services rose 3.7 percent, excluding the effects of natural-gas prices, currency shifts and scope impacts.

“In this context, and barring a degradation of the environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2014,” Potier said.

Germany’s Linde AG, which became the world’s biggest maker of industrial gases in 2012 with the acquisition of Lincare Holdings Inc., yesterday reported profit that missed estimates amid lower prices for medical gases in North America.

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

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

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