The Tier 1 company has released its results for the first half of 2009, which show localised signs of recovery and strength for the coming year.

The group said the first half activity level was characterised by very contrasted sector demand.

Group revenue for the first half of 2009 was €5,937m, reduced slightly by -6.8% compared to 2008, half of which is attributable to the decline in natural gas prices.

Resilient margins and net profit of €596m was almost at the same level as the first half of 2008, with just a 0.8% decrease.

After having fallen until April, activity improved in May and June, and several localised signs of recovery in the emerging economies and in sectors such as chemicals in the US, and Electronics, became apparent.

Sales in the second quarter, adjusted for natural gas and currency, are up by about +1% compared to those of the first quarter of 2009.

Large Industries, buoyed by start-ups and ramp-ups in China, Europe and the Middle East, and Healthcare, especially in the homecare sector, are still growing.

Electronics is progressively picking up, in particular in Asia with a recovery in volumes of specialty and carrier gases.

In Industrial Merchant, the volumes have now stabilised, albeit at a low level. The number of investment projects entering the portfolio of opportunities is again on the rise.

The very strong resilience in group margins at 15% and the limited reduction in the operating income recurring before depreciation at -2.7% are the result of the robustness of the group’s business model and the effectiveness of the management measures taken for 2009 and deployed in the context of the ALMA strategic programme.

The net profit (Group share) was €596m, almost at the same level as the first half of 2008.

Commenting on the first half 2009, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, said, “The performance of the first half of 2009 is in line with our expectations, in terms of efficiency, cash generation and level of indebtedness. It confirms Air Liquide’s resilience in a context of slow demand.”

“As concerns the levels of activity, the positive signs were more pronounced at the end of the half-year, but some segments remain affected by weak customer demand. In this context and as a result of the momentum generated by the ALMA programme, we maintain our objective for 2009, of revenue and net income to be close to the 2008 levels.”

“The group remains confident in the robustness of its growth model thanks to the structural potential of its five growth drivers which are Energy, Environment, Emerging Economies, Health and High-Tech. Air Liquide will continue to invest in them to strengthen its strategic positioning.”