The signing of several long-term contracts, inauguration of its Tokyo Innovation Campus and investments in carbon-free hydrogen production are three of the highlights from Air Liquide’s first half of 2019.

The French industrial gas giant today released its first half of 2019 results, which showed Air Liquide sustained sales growth as well as improving its operating margin significantly.

Commenting on the results, Chairman and CEO Benoît Potier said, “The group’s operating margin improved significantly, increasing by +70 bps. “

“This good performance results from a combination of three kinds of actions: a pricing policy reflective of higher costs, dynamic portfolio management, and a substantial reinforcement of efficiency programs.”

Segments

Group revenue for the first half of 2019 totalled €10.96bn ($12.22bn), up 4.9% on a comparable basis, driven by high Gas & Services sales.

Consolidated sales for Engineering & Construction were down slightly at -3.8%, which Air Liquide said was due to a larger proportion of group projects following the rise in investment decisions.

Global Markets & Technologies continued its strong development with growth of 10.7%.

Gas & Services revenue for the first half of 2019 reached €10.54bn ($11.75bn) and posted high comparable growth of 4.9%.

Published sales were up markedly (7.8%), benefitting from a favourable currency impact (2.5%) and the consolidation of Tech Air (0.4%).

“The group’s sales totalled nearly €11bn ($12.26bn), driven by dynamic sales in Gas & Services as well as in Global Markets & Technologies,” Potier highlighted.

“Gas & Services revenue, which accounts for 96% of the group’s total revenue, grew by close to +8% and by approximately +5% on a comparable basis.”

“All Gas & Services activities progressed, with very strong performances in Electronics and Healthcare, in line with previous quarters.”

“In a more contrasted market environment, sales grew in every region of the world, with a good dynamic in Europe and growth that remains sustained in Asia‑Pacific, specifically in China.”

Air Liquide said all businesses contributed to growth, in particularly Healthcare and Electronics.

Healthcare, up 6%, benefitted from strong sales growth in Home Healthcare in Europe and in Medical Gases in the US, with no material contribution from bolt-on acquisitions.

Following record growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, Electronics maintained a significant increase in revenue during the first half of 2019, up 13.5%.

Growth remained solid in Industrial Merchant at 2.6%, despite unfavourable working day impact, driven by high price impacts.

Large Industries increased by 5.4%, benefitting from the contribution to sales of several start-ups in Asia during the fourth quarter of 2018 and strong demand for hydrogen in Europe.

Group Operating Income Recurring (OIR) amounted to €1.8bn ($2bn), an increase of 12.2%. The operating margin (OIR to revenue) stood at 16.6%, an improvement of 70 basis points compared with the first half of 2019.

Future

Potier concluded, “The investment decisions of the first half, which include the acquisition of Tech Air in the US, came to €1.8bn ($2bn), an increase of 22% compared with the first half of 2018.”

“Industrial investment backlog reached €2.2bn ($2.45bn) and will contribute to the group’s future growth.”

“Assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver net profit growth in 2019, at constant exchange rates.”