Airgas, Inc. has reported strong growth in sales, operating income, and earnings for its fourth quarter ended March 31, 2007.
$quot;We capped the most successful year for acquisitions in our 25-year history,$quot; said Airgas chairman and chief executive officer Peter McCausland. $quot;The quarter included the acquisition of CFC Refimax in January and the March 9 acquisition of Linde's divested bulk gas business, bringing our year-end total to 13 acquisitions with more than $335m in acquired revenue.$quot;
Quarterly income from continuing operations was $43.7m, or $0.54 per diluted share, compared to $36m, or $0.45 per diluted share in the prior year. Fourth quarter sales grew 14 percent to $854m from the prior year. Acquisitions accounted for 9 percent of the growth, and total same-store sales increased 5 percent over robust growth levels in the prior year, with hardgoods up 6 percent and gas and rent up 5 percent.
$quot;Our non-residential construction and energy markets remain healthy. Along with our strategic products, they are helping to provide good growth in today's economic climate,$quot; said McCausland. $quot;Most importantly, our growth is profitable, as operating margin in the quarter expanded to 10.9 percent, an improvement of 130 basis points over last year's operating margin.$quot;
McCausland continued, $quot;We expect earnings per diluted share of $2.33 to $2.41 in fiscal 2008, including the impact of the Linde bulk business that we just acquired. First-quarter expectations are $0.52 to $0.54 per diluted share. We hope to outperform the economy again this year, as we benefit from our growth strategies and operating infrastructure.$quot;