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Air Products Falls as Profit, Forecasts Trail Estimates

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., the world’s largest hydrogen producer, fell the most in more than two and a half years after its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and 2013 forecasts lagged analysts’ estimates.

Air Products declined 6.3 percent to $79.99 at the close in New York, the most since Feb. 5, 2010.

Profit in the three months through September was $1.42 a share, excluding costs to restructure the company’s photovoltaic unit, exit the polyurethane intermediates business and write down assets related to a customer’s bankruptcy, Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products said today in a statement. That fell 2 cents short of the average of 16 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“We sense that the company continues to be impacted by the relatively sluggish pace of economic activity globally,” Michael Sison, a Cleveland-based analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. who rates the shares buy, said today in a note. “The softer guidance relative to current estimates will weigh on sentiment near term.”

Profit in the 2013 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be $5.65 a share to $5.85 a share, including $1.26 to $1.31 a share in the first fiscal quarter, Air Products said. Analysts had expected $6.16 for the year and $1.40 for the quarter.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John McGlade is countering slow growth in the global economy by expanding in Latin America and restructuring operations.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 4 percent to $2.61 billion from a year earlier, Air Products said. Operating margins contracted to 15.7 percent, compared with an estimate of 16.8 percent and year-earlier margins of 17 percent, Sison said.

Chief Financial Officer Paul Huck, 62, will retire Feb. 28 after 33 years with the company, to be succeeded by Controller Scott Crocco, 48, according to a separate statement today.

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