Air Liquide has upped the financial ante with a positively healthy performance in the first half of 2008 and a record second quarter for the group’s Gas and Services division.

The group’s Board of Directors, chaired by Chairman and CEO Benoît Potier, met on 1st August 2008 and reviewed financial statements for the first half of 2008 - discovering first half group revenue of €6.370m, a 13.2% increase compared to the previous year.

Such growth includes a record second quarter for Gas & Services activity, up 9.9% comparably, after continuous acceleration in 2007 and a high level in Q1 2008. This is cited as resulting from a combination of strong demand for hydrogen and ramp-ups of new units in Large Industries in Europe and Asia.

Good progress in Industrial Merchant, a Healthcare business which continued to show strong growth, and sustained sales in Electronics following several quarters of outstanding growth are also seen as fundamental factors for the strong performance.

Commenting on the results, Potier declared, “The growth in sales of 13.2%, the increase in Gas & Services recurring operating margin and the strong growth in diluted earnings per share of 10.6% in the first half of 2008 illustrate the strength of Air Liquide’s business model, for long term sustained growth.”

Air Liquide also noted that the execution of its ALMA programme has advanced significantly, enables the group to gain momentum by focusing on capital productivity, cost efficiency and enhanced growth. The performance in the first half 2008 demonstrates that the company is on track with ALMA objectives.

Potier explained, “Given the economic and financial situation in 2008, the momentum generated by the ALMA programme is a significant asset for Air Liquide. Thanks to better execution and greater focus of our actions, ALMA should allow us to continue this accelerated growth and improved competitiveness.”

“In this context, we remain confident in the ability of Air Liquide to achieve double-digit growth in 2008 net profit at constant exchanges rates.”

The group’s Gas & Services operating income recurring margin continues to increase, by more than 40 basis points (excluding natural gas impact) to 18.0%, while group net profit is €601m - up 11.3% at constant exchange rates.