Air Liquide's consolidated sales for 2004 reached €9,376 million representing an 11.7% increase on 2003.

The sales increase includes 7.1% from the groups activities, excluding natural gas and currency changes, and the contribution of acquired Messer operations, which represents 5.6% of the growth.

Air Liquide's 4th quarter consolidated sales reached €2,554 million. The Messer operations contributed to €178 million of the amount, whilst the groups activities in Singapore and Hong Kong represented €110 million of the sales figures. Excluding natural gas and exchange rate adjustments, activities grew 5.8% over the period.

Air Liquide's Chairman Benoit Potier///Photo courtesy of Air Liquide

Commenting on these figures, Benoit Potier, Chairman of the Management Board of Air Liquide, said, Year 2004 was very significant for Air Liquide, due to the acquisition and successful integration of Messer operations which enhances our core business in Europe and the US and the delivery of accelerated growth which confirms our strategy.

As a result, the Group has recorded strong consolidated sales growth for the year. Our hydrogen activities have developed strongly and both our homecare and service businesses have confirmed their ability to deliver sustainable growth. In 2004, we grew in all our markets, in Europe, the US and Asia, and particularly in China, demonstrating the groups new momentum.

For 2004, we confirm higher growth in reported net earnings than in 2003, close to the groups organic sales growth for the year.

In 2005, these positive trends should continue with the development of our growth drivers and geographic expansion.

Gas and Services accounted for 90% of the groups activities in 2004, amounting to a value of €8,275 million. This represented a growth of 6.6% again excluding natural gas sales and exchange rate effects.

The 4th quarter reached €2,268 million equalling an 6% growth over the same quarter in 2003, on the same basis.

Footnote: Air Liquide will issue full year (2004) earnings on 28th February 2005.