Air Liquide has revealed first-half 2016 group revenue of just under €8.3bn ($9.2bn approx.), up 2.2% on a reported basis and +8.0% excluding the currency and energy impact compared with the first half of 2015.
The company cited continued dynamism in the electronics market, higher volumes in its Large Industries business and the ongoing rise of the healthcare business as driving growth in the period.
The results also included €511m ($570m) of Airgas sales consolidated as of 23rd May 2016, the closing date of the industry’s game-changing acquisition. Excluding Airgas, comparable growth* was +1.7%.
All of which offset huge falls in revenue in the group’s Engineering & Construction revenue, which stood at €254m ($283.6m) having been adversely impacted by the slowdown in major projects related to energy and the low number of new projects.
Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, explained, “This first half has been characterised by the completion of the Airgas acquisition, which will be accretive in 2016, and its first contribution to the group’s performance.”
“In a context of moderate global growth, Gas & Services sales posted robust growth. Growth is the result of dynamic Electronics sales, higher volumes in Large Industries, and rising Healthcare business. This first half is also characterised by a negative currency impact and lower energy prices.”
Potier continued, “All geographies are progressing on a comparable basis, benefiting notably from the slight improvement in demand in industry since the beginning of the year. This increase was more pronounced in Asia Pacific and the developing economies.”
Growth in Gas & Services
At the heart of Air Liquide’s strong first half were Gas & Services sales of €7.6bn – including Airgas sales since 23rd May 2016 – which had grown 4.3% on a reported basis and as much as 10.6% excluding the currency and energy impact, compared with the first half of 2015.
Excluding Airgas, comparable growth was 3.6%. Currency impact (-2.6%) and energy impact (-3.7%) were both unfavourable in the period.
The developing economies continued to post strong growth, with Gas & Services sales up 11.4% on a comparable basis, while all Gas & Services activities progressed in the first half on a comparable basis – with the exception of Industrial Merchant, which remained contrasted.
|H1 2016/2015 Reported||H1 2016/2015 inc. Airgas, excl. Currency and Energy||H1 2016/2015 Comparable|
|(Of which Gas & Services)||€7.618bn||+4.3%||+10.6%||+3.6%|
|Operating Income Recurring||€1.382bn||-1.9%||–||–|
|Net Profit (Group Share)||€811m||-4.6%||–||+1/1%|
|Net Debt as of 30th June 2016||€19.860bn|
Source: Air Liquide
Large Industries revenue rose sharply, up 6.2%, and saw growth in all geographic zones. It benefited from the ramp-up of production units, especially in Germany, Eastern Europe, North and South America, and China. The contribution of the two hydrogen production units on the Yanbu site in Saudi Arabia, which started up in second quarter 2015, remained significant in this reporting period and especially so in the first quarter, Air Liquide explained.
Industrial Merchant revenue, however, remained contrasted; while revenue fell 1.6% overall in the period, a slight improvement was noted in the second quarter. Performance was mixed on a regional basis too – sales in Europe were positive in the first half and up 2.7% in the second quarter, while in North America market segments related to energy and metal fabrication were still affected by weak demand for oil services and related industries, yet the agri-food, pharmaceutical, and research markets are growing.
This market dynamic was the same for Airgas, whose gas sales were slightly up in the first half.
The situation was also contrasted in Asia-Pacific, with sales down in Japan while volumes are rising sharply in China.
The Electronics business continued to post robust growth of 11.2%, driven by strong demand for equipment and installations and advanced materials sales, which rose by more than 25%. Activity was particularly strong in the Asia-Pacific, with double-digit growth in Japan, China, and Singapore.
Healthcare revenues rose 4.8%, having benefited from sustained high demand for home healthcare services, from dynamic hygiene sales, which rose 19%, and from expansion in the developing economies; Brazil and Argentina in particular. Including the contribution of Airgas via its sales of medical gases to hospitals, global Healthcare revenue in the second quarter was up 11.5%, excluding the currency impact.
Air Liquide’s results continue to reinforce the group’s competitiveness, generating €143m ($159.6m) in recurring efficiency gains during first half, in line with its forecasts for the year.
In the second half of 2016, these efficiencies will be enhanced by the first benefits of the synergies with Airgas, for which the integration process is progressing well the company said.
The Gas & Services operating margin, which is 19.6% excluding the impact of Airgas, was up 20 basis points compared with the first half of 2015, while group net profit reached €811m ($905m) for the first half – €842m ($940m) excluding the impact of the Airgas acquisition. The first half of 2016 was naturally impacted by exceptional costs linked to the acquisition of Airgas, totalling around €100m before taxes.
Potier concluded, “The group continues to generate recurring efficiency gains, to which will be added the first benefits of synergies with Airgas in the second half of the year. The operational performance of Gas & Services is solid, as evidenced by the margin increase and strong cash flow growth.”
“Following the completion of the acquisition of Airgas, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to generate growth in 2016, both in net profit and in net earnings per share, including the effect of the capital increase planned for September/October.”
*Variation H1 2016/H1 2015 excluding currency and energy impact.