Air Liquide has announced Group revenue for 2021 first quarter (Q1) of €5,334m, with an increase of +3.8% in sales, as it saw a return to growth for all activities in an improving environment.
The French industrial gas giant reported sales increased by +3.8% on a comparable basis with Q1 2020, which had been affected by the health crisis in Asia, and more specifically in China, and then in Europe from mid-March 2020.
The consolidated revenue of Engineering & Construction recorded strong growth of +48.5% compared to lower activity due to the pandemic in Q1 2020. Global Markets & Technologies activity was up by +25.7%, driven by the ramp-up of biogas units and sales of equipment with high technological added-value.
Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, said: “This first quarter saw solid growth of +3.8% on a comparable basis, confirming the trend recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020. Sales reached €5.3 billion, including €5.1 billion for Gas & Services, which grew +2.8% on a comparable basis. This growth confirms the recovery seen in all of our Gas & Services activities. Strong momentum was also seen in the Engineering & Construction and Global Markets & Technologies business lines.”
All business lines posted growth compared to Q1 2020. Healthcare sales recorded a strong increase of +10.1% on a comparable basis. Large Industries revenue grew by +3.0% despite the impact of the winter storm on the Gulf Coast in mid-February, notably supported by the contribution of new production units. Industrial Merchant revenue returned to growth (+0.3%), supported by the pick-up in volumes, solid pricing of +1.6%, and strong activity in China. Sales in Electronics were up by +1.8% and by +2.8% excluding Equipment & Installation sales.
Potier added, “In Gas & Services, which account for 96% of Group sales, growth was particularly strong in Healthcare at +10%. In the industrial sector, the Industrial Merchant activity showed positive growth for the first time since the start of the health crisis, while Large Industries grew, driven by the start-up of new units and the marked recovery in the Steel and Chemicals markets. In terms of geographies, Asia showed very strong growth, led by China, while Europe grew solidly. The Americas region posted contrasted performance, impacted by an exceptional cold wave in the United States.”
Gas & Services revenue in the Americas region was down by -1.5% on a comparable basis, at €2,003m in Q1. In North America, after a strong month of January, sales were impacted as of mid-February by the historic winter storm on the Gulf Coast, notably in the Large Industries business. Healthcare posted +13.3% growth in sales.
Revenue for the Europe region reached €1,797m, up by +4.5% on a comparable basis. Industrial activities have returned to growth, with higher comparable sales compared to Q1 2019. Industrial Merchant activity showed a strong improvement, with sales growth of +3.6% in Q1 2021 compared to a -1.3% decline in Q4 2020.
Sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew strongly by +6.7% on a comparable basis, to €1,150m, with all business lines recording growth in Q1 China (+12.8%) contributed significantly, and benefited from a favorable comparison basis with Q1 2020 greatly impacted by the health crisis. In the rest of the region, sales increased by +2.4%.
Revenue in the Middle East and Africa totaled €15m, up by a strong +17.5% on a comparable basis in Q1. Large Industries sales benefited from a rise in demand from customers connected to the pipeline network in Saudi Arabia and a favorable comparison effect due to a customer turnaround in Q1.