Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Air Liquide SA, the world’s biggest producer of industrial gases, forecast higher profit this year after reporting 2011 earnings in line with analyst estimates while sales growth slowed as the company slashed costs.
Net income climbed 9.4 percent to 1.54 billion euros ($2.02 billion), the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts was 1.53 billion euros. Like-for-like sales of gas and services rose 7.5 percent, slowing to a pace of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, hurt by steelmakers and makers of electronic goods
“Air Liquide continues to aim for growth in net profit in 2012,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in the statement. For 2011, he had predicted “steady growth” in net income.
Potier has predicted sales may rise 8 percent to 10 percent on average through 2015. Potier is boosting 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 or steelmakers.
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