Air Liquide has released solid financials in its latest results with group revenue rising 6% to €5.3m in the third quarter.
This strong growth was in line with that of the first half year and was driven by a robust market environment overall, the Tier One corporation explained. This was supported by high Gas & Services sales, an improvement in Engineering & Construction and the strong growth of Global Markets & Technologies.
The sale of the Airgas Refrigerants business at the end of 2017 led to a significant scope impact of -0.5%. Published change in Group revenue was therefore up +6.6% over the quarter.
Highlights for Air Liquide in the third quarter include: the inauguration of the Paris Innovation Campus in the “Plateau de Saclay”; entry into Kazakhstan, with the signing of a long-term contract to supply hydrogen, and the takeover of an existing production unit; and the inauguration of an electrolyser for the production of carbon-free hydrogen in Denmark.
Commenting on the continued strong growth, Air Liquide’s Chairman and CEO Benoît Potier said, “The Group is ahead on its annual operational efficiency program and will achieve synergies linked to the integration of Airgas as early as beginning 2019, which is more than one year ahead of schedule.”
“Cash flow from operations remains high and the investment cycle remains particularly well oriented, with a high level of opportunities 12 months out. Investment decisions, fuel for future growth, are up substantially and total €1.9bn at the end of September.”
“Our performance since the start of the year already reflects the structuring decisions that we have made over the course of the last two years, with the integration of Airgas, the reorganisation of the company around the customer, the digital transformation, and the implementation of a new approach to innovation.”
Gas & Services revenue rose 5.2%, on a comparable basis, during the third quarter reaching €5.1m.
Driven by the majority of end markets, Air Liquide’s Industrial Mechant business sales growth remained strong, with revenues up 4.2%. Price impacts were higher (up 2.9%) and reflected an improved correlation with inflation.
Large Industries benefited from the start-up and ramp-up of units, strong demand for oxygen and hydrogen in the Americas zone and for hydrogen for the refining industry in Europe. As a result, revenues were up 5.4%. Several customer maintenance turnarounds limited growth in the Asia zone.
Momentum in Healthcare was strong, with revenues up 5.7%, in particular in Home Healthcare, where the number of patients treated continued to increase, and in Specialty Ingredients.
Electronics revenue climbed 8.5%, mainly driven in Asia by the start-up of Carrier Gases units and the strong demand for new molecules, and by exceptionally high Equipment & Installations sales.
Engineering & Construction revenue €105m, up 38.9% compared to the third quarter of 2017. It benefited from the gradual improvement in order intake seen since the beginning of 2017.
Additional Airgas synergies represented $13m in the third quarter and a cumulated $273m since the acquisition of Airgas. The initial target of $300m will be reached at the beginning of 2019, more than a year earlier than the initial target.
Concluding, Potier said, “Assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver net profit growth in 2018, calculated at constant exchange rate and excluding 2017 exceptionals.”