Air Liquide announced sustained growth in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019 with sales of 5.4bn euros (approx. $6bn), up +9% as published and +5% on a comparable basis.

Growth was particularly strong in Electronics (+13.7%) and Healthcare (+5.4%) for the major industrial gases company, and was driven by strong Gas & Services sales growth (+4.8%). Engineering & Construction continued to improve (+5.0%) and Global Markets & Technologies kept its strong growth momentum (+15.9%).

“Whether it is Gas and Services, Engineering and Construction, or Global Markets and Technologies, all activities are growing,” said Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide.

Potier continued, “In Gas and Services, all business lines and geographies are growing, confirming a trend that began four quarters ago. Growth is particularly strong in Electronics and Healthcare. Geographically, Asia confirms its dynamism, with sales remaining strong, especially in China. Efficiencies contributed 77 million euros (approx. $85.8m) in the first quarter and will ramp up, in the framework of a reinforced target of 400m euros (approx. $445.5m) per year. Cash flow, meanwhile, remains solid.”

Potier is confident Air Liquide will deliver net profit growth in 2019, after Q1 investments which have included:

  • Air Gas, an Air Liquide company, acquired Tech Air, a major US distributor of industrial gases and welding supplies that generates annual revenue of approximately $190m
  • An 18.6% equity stake in Canada-based Hydrogenics Corporation, a specialist in equipment used to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis
  • Construction in Canada of the world’s largest PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolyser
  • Signature of a new long-term contract with Severstal (Russia) for the design and construction of a new air gas separation unit
  • Acquisitions in home healthcare in Switzerland, of Sleep & Health SA and Megamed AG

Potier said, “After a record level reached in the fourth quarter of 2018, investment decisions for the first quarter of 2019 remain high at 900 million euros (approx. $1bn), a figure that includes the acquisition of Tech Air in the US, an industrial merchant business. These investments will contribute to the Group’s future growth. Accordingly, assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver net profit growth in 2019, calculated at constant exchange rate.”

In Gas and Services, all geographies grew and developing economies, in particular China, continued to progress rapidly (+16.0%).