Air Liquide has declared third quarter (Q3) 2015 group revenue of €4.09bn ($4.5bn approx.), up almost 8% on a reported basis and 4.6% on a comparable basis versus Q3 2014.
Gas & Services sales, which totalled €3.7bn ($4bn), rose by 7.4% on a reported basis and 4.5% on a comparable basis versus Q3 2014, an increase of one percentage point compared with Q2 2015.
Currency impact remained positive in the quarter (+4.9% for Gas & Services), but softened with respect to the first half of 2015 and was partly offset by the negative impact of energy prices (-2.0%).
Momentum remained positive in the developing economies, with Q3 Gas & Services revenue in these countries up 10.4% on a comparable basis. Globally, growth in Gas & Services revenue for the quarter (on a comparable basis) was satisfactory given the trend in industrial production.
Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, commented, “In an environment of moderate global growth, the group delivered in the third quarter a sustained increase in sales. This growth was driven by the dynamism of Healthcare and Electronics, by new unit start-ups and ramp-ups in Large Industries, and by the developing economies. The impact of currency translation is softening, but remains favourable.”
“Europe, at +5%, is benefiting from the sustained development of Healthcare and shows signs of recovery in certain industrial sectors. In North America, the slowdown in sectors linked to oil and gas production continues. Asia-Pacific is benefiting from Japan’s positive performance and satisfactory growth in China, where economic activity has become more moderate.”
He added, “The operating performance is solid and the group continues to improve its competitiveness and invest in promising markets. The investment backlog amounts to €2bn and represents, along with innovations and technologies under development, an important source of growth over the medium term.”
gasworld Business Intelligence previously reported positive underlying growth for the industry’s major players to take into the third quarter.
Despite a challenging second quarter (2015) with mixed overall growth performance and modest global industrial output, gasworld pointed to a number of positive underlying growth drivers – with healthcare cited in particular.
This appears to have been borne out in Air Liquide’s Q3 results, with the group recording a significant 8% rise in Healthcare revenues for the quarter, progressed in both advanced and developing economies. Revenue was boosted by increased demand for home healthcare services, a trend for the long-term, by the sales of hygiene products which was were also particularly dynamic this quarter, and by targeted acquisitions.
Meanwhile the group’s Electronics segment continued to report robust growth (+12.8%), driven by strong sales in Asia, and more specifically in China, Taiwan and Japan. All of Air Liquide’s product lines reported growth, with particular success for its advanced materials which include the ALOHA™ range and the Voltaix offering – for which sales rose an impressive 38.2%.
Large Industries, up 6.5%, showed clear sequential improvement compared with the two previous quarters and despite ‘a few unplanned plant turnarounds by several customers’. Growth is benefiting from new production unit start-ups and ramp-ups, primarily in Germany, Benelux, China, and Saudi Arabia, the company noted. Hydrogen volumes rose sharply, in particular due to the ramp-up of the Yanbu site, while demand for air gases remains sustained in China and is increasing in the US.
For Industrial Merchant, where revenue was down 1.2%, activity remains contrasted. In North America, volumes continue to be adversely affected by the slowdown in oil services and related industries. In the Asia-Pacific region, sales in Australia declined as a result of the weakness of the mining sector, while they continued to improve in developing economies due to higher volumes.
Europe posted slightly positive growth, with bulk volumes higher, for the food and pharmaceutical industries in particular, while cylinder activity remains weak. Sales in Eastern Europe continue to be dynamic.
Finally, in the group’s Engineering and Technology business, revenue rose by 16.8% on a comparable basis versus Q3 2014 and is essentially explained by the conversion of a delayed Large Industries project into the sale of the unit to the customer.
With efficiency gains – which stood at €204m for the first nine months of 2015 – in line with the annual target of more than €250m, Air Liquide continues to be confident in its aims for full year 2015.
Potier concluded, “Assuming a comparable economic environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2015.”