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Air Liquide Maintains Profit Growth Outlook as Sales Climb

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Air Liquide SA, the world’s second-largest industrial gas company, reported a 1 percent increase in first-quarter sales as demand in Asia, Pacific and the Americas offset the impact of currency fluctuations.

Revenue rose to 3.73 billion euros ($5.16 billion) from 3.70 billion euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts was 3.75 billion euros. Sales of gas and services, excluding items such as currency and natural gas impacts, increased 5.7 percent.

“This quarter confirms the return to a more favorable economic climate that started in the course of 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in the statement. He reiterated that “Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2014.”

Potier, who is cutting jobs in France, Germany and Italy to adapt to Europe’s economic woes, predicted in December that annual revenue increases will average 5 percent to 7 percent in 2011 to 2015, adjusted for currency effects, as the company taps demand for industrial gases in health care, energy and electronics. It competes with No. 1 supplier Germany’s Linde AG.

So-called efficiency gains reached 69 million euros in the first quarter, and operational cash flow increased by 9 percent, excluding the currency impact, Air Liquide said.

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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