“There was strong growth in this first quarter, which reflects a good level of activity and demonstrates the group’s resilience in a context marked, notably, by inflation and the war in Ukraine.”

Those were the world of Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, when he today (27th April) reflected on the industrial gas giant’s quarter on (Q1) 2022 financial results.

For the quarter, Air Liquide’s sales were up 8% on a comparable basis and 29% based on published figures, notably reflecting the sharp rise in energy prices contractually passed on to Large Industries customers.

Sales reached €6.9bn, including €6.6bn for Gas & Services.

The company’s growth confirms the strength of the Gas & Services businesses and the strong momentum of the Engineering & Construction and Global Markets & Technologies business lines.

Gas & Services, which represents over 95% of Group sales, was up 7.1% on a comparable basis, reflecting the strong growth of the Electronics business line as well as Industrial Merchant which demonstrated, once again, its ability to adapt prices to reflect rising costs.

Despite a high basis of comparison, the Healthcare business line continued to grow. In terms of geographies, growth was particularly strong in Europe and the Americas.

Further analysing the financials, Potier continued, “Regarding efficiencies, the Group continued to take action to improve performance. In the Q1 2022, €77m in efficiencies were generated in spite of a highly inflationary context, and we confirm our target of over €400m over the year.”

“Cash flow remains high at more than 23% of sales excluding the energy effect.”

“Investment decisions over the quarter reached the very high level of €913m, with several Electronics projects, particularly in Asia. The 12-month portfolio of opportunities remains stable at €3.3bn. The proportion of projects linked to the energy transition exceeds 40%.”

Americas

Gas and Services revenue in the Americas region totalled €2.3bn in Q1 2022, showing a strong increase of 9% on a comparable basis.

Growth in Large Industries reached 8.3%, driven by the dynamic demand, particularly in the Chemicals and Steel industries.

Up 10%, Industrial Merchant revenue benefited from the acceleration of pricing and the increase in volumes.

Proximity care in the US and the Home Healthcare business in Latin America drove growth in the Healthcare business line in a context of lower demand for medical oxygen to treat covid-19. Finally, all business segments within Electronics contributed to the particularly dynamic growth.

Europe

Revenue in Europe increased 7.2% in Q1 on a comparable basis and totalled €2.7bn, reflecting exceptionally high energy prices and the war in Ukraine.

Large Industries shows a 4.5% decrease in sales, whereas growth accelerated in Industrial Merchant to grow an expectational 22.7%, driven by record pricing of 19.4%.

Healthcare also continued to grow despite a particularly high basis of comparison in 2021.

Asia-Pacific

Sales in Asia-Pacific were up 4.4%, compared to Q1 2022, and totalled €1.3bn. Air Liquide said the growth was particularly driven by dynamic growth across the electronics business segments.

Large Industries sales decreased 1.1% and were impacted by soft demand in China and low hydrogen sales in South Korea.

Industrial Merchant revenue grew 2.7%, benefiting in particular from solid growth in China.

Middle East and Africa

Revenue in the Middle East and Africa totalled €201m, which remained stable.

That being said, volumes increased strongly in South Africa, with the integration of 16 Sasol air separation units that were acquired at the end of the first half of 2021.