Air Liquide has released its consolidated sales for the first quarter 2006.

Consolidated sales amounted to €2,773m, an increase of +12 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2005. On a comparable basis (excluding currency and natural gas effects and the deconsolidation of liquid chemicals in the US), growth was +7.1 per cent.

Gas and services sales, at €2,445m, rose +11.1 per cent versus the same period of 2005. On a comparable basis, growth was +5.7 per cent.

Benoît Potier, chairman of the management board, said: \\$quot;The beginning of 2006 saw a good level of activity, in line with 2005 trends.

\\$quot;During the first quarter, strong performance in industrial customers, particularly in the Americas, reinforced our businesses, large industries in Europe and Asia, homecare and hygiene in Europe, and gas sales in electronics. Continued rises in energy costs, however, should progressively be offset by further pricing and efficiency efforts.

\\$quot;Our growth drivers \\$quot;“ especially hydrogen, China and Healthcare \\$quot;“ together with a solid portfolio of large projects under development and a sustained order level for engineering, confirm the development outlook for our markets in industrial and medical gases.

\\$quot;On this basis, we maintain our net profit target for 2006.\\$quot;

Gas and services
In the first quarter 2006, gas and services sales amounted to €2,445m, an increase of +11.1 per cent and +5.7 per cent on a comparable basis (excluding currency and natural gas effects and the deconsolidation of liquid chemicals in the US) versus the first quarter of 2005.


Asia-Pacific sales reached €417m, a rise of +3.3. The zone continued to progress, despite an unfavourable comparison effect for equipment and installation sales, which were very high in the first quarter of 2005.

In the Americas, first quarter 2006 sales amounted to €680m, an increase of +4.2%. In a favourable environment, industrial customers achieved double digit growth across the zone. Volumes showed strong acceleration in Canada and South America. In the US, increased prices, linked to the rising energy costs, supplemented the growth arising from the good level of activity.

Sales in the first quarter 2006 in Europe amounted to €1,305m, up +7.1 per cent.