Airgas chairman and CEO Peter McCausland today is announcing at the company's annual analyst meeting in Phoenix that Airgas has increased its fiscal year 2008 targets for sales and return on capital, and affirmed its target for operating margin.

The company is projecting sales of $3.3 billion, 10-11 per cent operating margins and 12 per cent return on capital by the end of fiscal 2008.

McCausland commented: \\$quot;This fiscal year, we anticipate sales of around $2.8 billion with an operating margin of nine per cent to 9.5 per cent. We are enjoying good momentum across our business and our outlook is very strong. Our core business has been helped by the industrial economy and our strategic growth platforms of medical, specialty and bulk gases, safety products and strategic accounts are posting double-digit same-store sales.\\$quot;

\\$quot;We have many additional opportunities to grow the business by leveraging our strong distribution platform and cash flow. We are focused on the future and will pursue our goals by following a consistent strategic direction.\\$quot;

Executive VP and chief Operating officer, Mike Molinini, commented on the strengthening pricing environment and the company's discipline in managing price and its gas supply chain. He also commented on plans to overlay a market focus on the product based sales organisation. He said: “The construction market will soon follow the model currently used in the medical market, with national leadership and specialised branches and sales forces in selected areas.“