Airgas, Inc, has enjoyed a year of dynamism, acquiring eight businesses since the financial year’s start in April. And much like its competitor firm, Air Products, recent fiscal reports indicate robust revenues.
The North American distributor of industrial, medical gases, speciality gases and related supplies, has reported net earnings of $55.8m, or $0.65 per diluted share. For the period ending 31st December 2010, the year-to-date free cash flow reached $255m. This was driven by adjusted cash from operation of $419m. At the same time, debt declined by $178m year-to-date, reducing to $1.6bn.
Airgas CEO Peter McCausland, commented, “We are seeing improvement across the country, with robust results in our Great Lakes, Mid South, and Southwest regions. Growth is now accelerating in our core business on strength in our manufacturing, utilities and petrochemical customer segments, as well as in repair and maintenance activity, particularly at our larger customers. Although we have yet to see meaningful recovery in energy and infrastructure construction, the outlook is improving and our rental welder business is poised to return to positive same-store sales growth in our fourth quarter.”
“Our acquisition pipeline is improving as the economy recovers. We recently acquired three businesses with annual revenues of $14m, including Conley Gas, a supplier of pure gases to the speciality gas industry. Since the beginning of our fiscal year in April, we have acquired seven businesses with $20m in annual revenues, and we anticipate a more robust acquisition environment in the coming quarters.”
According to recently released third quarter financial reports, sales saw a 9% increase to $1.03bn. Total same-store sales increased 9% during the quarter, with hard goods up 11% and gas and rent up 7%. However sequentially sales decline by 3% suffering from seasonality and reduced selling days in the third quarter.
Airgas predicts adjusted earnings per diluted share for the fourth quarter to increase 19% to 25% from $0.69 in the prior year towards $0.82 - $0.86.
Similarly, the firm anticipates a rise in adjusted EPS between 22% - 24%. McCausland reflected upon this, he said, “Our updated fiscal 2011 adjusted EPS guidance now represents a year-over-year increase of 26% to 28% in underlying earnings before SAP costs.”
He concluded, “Given our strong performance and expectations for steady growth, we are on track to outperform our calendar 2012 earnings goal of at least $4.20 per share.$quot;