Airgas highlighted growth opportunities for the business and provided mid-term financial goals at its 2014 analysts meeting.

Held yesterday, the meeting involved the discussion of strategies for leveraging Airgas’ “unrivalled platform and capabilities to drive sales growth and margin expansion” as well as discussed fiscal 2018 financial goals.

“We have a long history of creating value for our shareholders through a disciplined approach to growing our business and strong, steady cash flow generation, which continues to be a hallmark of our business model today. Since going public in 1986, we have delivered a total annual compounded return to shareholders of 19%, significantly better than the S&P 500 Index over that 28-year period,” said Airgas Executive Chairman Peter McCausland. “During the past several years, we have continued to invest to position Airgas to capitalise on what we expect will be favourable long-term trends in key US end markets, including manufacturing, energy, chemicals, and non-residential construction. With a lot of heavy lifting behind us and the favourable long-term outlook for the US industrial economy, Airgas is in a great position to deliver strong results.”

“With the rollout of Airgas Total Access complete and our robust new eBusiness platform recently launched, our unrivalled, multi-channel sales platform is now fully built, and cross-channel collaboration is increasing rapidly,” said Airgas President and Chief Executive Officer Michael L. Molinini. “In addition, we’re creating capacity in our fixed cost structure through organisational, operational and sales initiatives designed to drive higher incremental margins on future sales growth.”

“Airgas has a long track record of strong sales and earnings growth, a solid balance sheet, and a resilient business model,” said Airgas Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Robert M. McLaughlin. “Our fiscal 2018 financial goals include, subject to certain assumptions, sales of approximately $6.8bn on compounded annual growth rates of approximately 7% and 1.5% for organic and acquired sales, respectively, from the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2014. Our fiscal 2018 goals also include increasing our operating margin to at least 15%, representing 270 basis points of expansion, and increasing our return on capital* to at least 16%, representing 390 basis points of expansion, over that same three-and-a-half year period.”

In the twelve month period ended September 30th, 2014, the company generated sales of $5.2bn, operating margin of 12.3%, and return on capital of 12.1%.

In addition to McCausland, Molinini, and McLaughlin, the event featured presentations by Andrew R. Cichocki - President, Airgas USA, LLC; Ronald J. Stark - Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing; Charles E. Broadus, Jr. - Division President, South Division; Thomas S. Thoman - Division President, Gases Production; Jeffrey D. Cass - Vice President, Manufacturing and Metal Fabrication Markets; and Stephen R. Hope - Vice President, Energy and Chemical Markets.