Air Liquide’s 2015 financial results are out – and it signifies a “solid performance” for the French industrial gas giant on the back of exploring expanding global markets with key acquisitions.

The global corporation raked in a consolidated revenue of €16,380bn ($18.4bn) in 2015, up 3.3% on a comparable basis from the previous year. Air Liquide attributes this business growth to a “momentum in healthcare and electronics, and in Large Industries by higher volumes from new contracts.”

Its operating margin also benefitted from a high level of efficiency gains and lower energy prices, and rose to 17.6%.

The French company’s gas and services revenue for 2015 rose by 3.8% on a comparable basis, and reached €14,752bn ($16.5bn). Its sales in this area have seen sequential improvement for Air Liquide, reaching an increase of 4.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the same quarter back in 2014.

Key acquisitions

Other highlights of 2015 include further acquisitions in the home healthcare and hygiene sectors, which have contributed to an increase in revenue of 7.5% in this area. The company attributed this solid performance to ongoing demand as well as consolidating key acquisitions within the sector, such as acquiring Vic Pharma in Brazil and UK-based PDP Couriers.

New contracts were also confirmed in growing markets, such as South Africa, China and Columbia. Electronics revenue was up 11.5%, namely in the semi-conductors sector, thanks to strong sales in Japan, China and Taiwan.

Also, in the past year, the company also noted a sharp increased demand for hydrogen (H2) after it’s dedicated site in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, fired up, coupled with demand for air gases remaining high in the Asia region, and specifically China. As a result, its Large Industries revenue increased by 9.3% in the fourth quarter.

Its engineering and construction revenue was stable at €775m ($868m), but income from global markets and technologies, which focuses on energy transition and the extreme cryogenics, aerospace and new industrial gas applications for the maritime sector markets, reached €292m ($327m) – up 11.4% from the previous year.

The only negative was drawn in its North America Industrial Merchant market, where sales were down by 1.3%. Air Liquide associates this with a slowdown in demand for oil and services and related industries in the region.

Positive comments

“Excluding the impact of Airgas acquisition and financing, and assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2016.”

Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, reinforced Air Liquide’s progress and stated, “The group achieved a solid performance, delivering once again an increase in revenue, operating margin and net profit, in the context of slower global growth in 2015.”

“Over the year, as a result of efficiencies close to €300m ($336m) and investment decisions totaling €2.4bn ($2.7bn), the group improved its competitiveness and sustained its future growth. At the same time, the signature of the merger agreement to acquire Airgas in the US and the rollout of an innovation strategy, reinforced by the creation of the global markets and technologies activity, mark major steps in the group’s development and transformation.”

“Excluding the impact of Airgas acquisition and financing, and assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2016.”

In addition to releasing its financial result, Air Liquide also announced some re-arrangements in its Board of Directors, such as the termination of Paul Skinner’s tenure as statutory auditor with PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) taking over the helm.

The Board of Directors will also seek to raise the maximum age limit of the Chairman and CEO by five years to 70-years-old, in order to align the age limit with current market practice.