Air Liquide has announced first quarter sales of €2.79bn, up 0.6 percent on Q1 2006. This is up 5.2 percent on a comparable basis, with a strong rise in Asia as the key factor in the comparable growth.

Sales recovered slightly in Europe, while growth softened in North America. Overall however, it still claims a full-year target of a double-digit rise in net profit.

In the company's main industrial gases and services business, sales were almost flat at €2.45bn, against €2.45bn a year earlier.

Among factors that held sales growth down were the strong euro, which had a negative impact of 3.7 per cent, and lower gas prices, which had a negative impact of 0.9 percentt.

The company also said that Europe, which accounts for around half of the company's total revenue, had first quarter sales of €1.35bn, up 3.5 percent, with sales on a comparable basis up 4.1 percent.