Air Liquide Third-Quarter Sales Miss Estimates on Currencies

Air Liquide SA, the French maker of industrial gases, reported third-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates as a strengthening euro offset growing demand.

Sales fell 1 percent from a year earlier to 3.77 billion euros ($5.2 billion), the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts was 3.88 billion euros. Adjusted for natural gas and “significant” currency impacts, sales rose 5.1 percent.

“Our performance this quarter is in line with the positive trend observed since the beginning of the year, driven by our health-care activity, the dynamism in the Americas and Eastern Europe, as well as an improvement in Japan and in electronics,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in the statement. He reiterated a forecast for profit growth in 2013.

Potier, who is cutting jobs in France, Germany and Italy, has said he will unveil a strategy in 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 from 2011 to 2015 by 30 percent to 1.3 billion euros.

Strong Euro

The stronger euro against the yen, the dollar and emerging market currencies shaved 210 million euros off sales in the third quarter, the company said. Natural gas prices had a negative impact of 23 million euros in the period, while the purchases of LVL Medical and Gasmedi last year added 41 million euros, it said.

Air Liquide shares fell as much as 2.9 percent, the biggest decline in four months, and were down 1.7 percent at 100.95 euros at 9:51 a.m. in Paris. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 6.2 percent, lagging the 17 percent gain in France’s CAC 40 Index.

“Efficiency gains” amounted to 209 million euros in the first nine months of 2013, ahead of the annual target of more than 250 million euros, Air Liquide said. Most of the costs of the reorganization have been taken in the first half, it said.

(Updates with currency effects in fifth paragraph.)
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