With the results from 2015’s third quarter now clear, The Linde Group has reported its figures for the first nine months of the year and notes continued growth in its Gases Division.
The group achieved a 7.7% increase in revenue on the basis of reported figures in the first nine months of 2015 to €13.55bn, compared with revenue of €12.58bn in the first nine months of 2014.
After adjusting for exchange rate effects, revenue was 0.9% below that generated in the prior-year period.
Operating profit improved by 8.2% to €3.13bn (2014: €2.89bn). After adjusting for exchange rate effects, operating profit fell slightly, by 0.7%. Group operating margin improved slightly to 23.1% (2014: 23%).
Particular mention was made of performance in the group’s Gases Division, where Linde achieved a 9.5% increase in revenue in the period. Dr. Wolfgang Büchele, CEO of Linde AG, explained, “We are seeing continued growth in our Gases Division, which is by far our largest line of business. Business trends in the US are particularly encouraging.”
“It is therefore even more important for us to maintain a consistent focus on sustainable investment in order to continue to strengthen our position as a world market leader in growth areas.”
During the reporting period, Linde achieved a 9.5% increase in revenue in the Gases Division to €11.38bn (2014: €10.39bn). On a comparable basis (after adjusting for exchange rate effects and changes in the price of natural gas), revenue rose 2.1%.
After making an additional adjustment of €64m for the LPG business acquired by Linde during the reporting period from Wesfarmers Kleenheat Gas Pty Ltd, the increase in revenue was 1.5%.
Operating profit increased by 10.4% to €3.13bn (2014: €2.83bn), while operating margin increased to 27.5% (2014: 27.3%).
As noted by Dr. Büchele, trends in the US market were particularly encouraging for the Gases Division, with Linde achieving significant growth (+22.3%) in revenue in its Americas segment in the first nine months of 2015, reaching €3.87bn. On a comparable basis, revenue rose by 8.3%.
Operating profit increased by 29.2% to €977m (2014: €756m), while the operating margin rose to 25.2% (2014: EUR 23.8%). Positive trends in the fast-growing healthcare business, especially in the US, had the greatest beneficial impact on earnings in the Gases Division, Linde noted.
In the Asia-Pacific segment, Linde generated revenue in the nine months to 30th September (2015) of €3.13bn – 11% more than the figure for the prior-year period of €2.82bn. On a comparable basis, revenue rose by 1.1%, although here too the expiry of on-site contracts had an adverse impact on revenue.
In the EMEA segment (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Linde achieved revenue in the first nine months of 2015 of €4.51bn, which was slightly above the figure for the first nine months of 2014 of €4.49bn. On a comparable basis, revenue fell by 1.6%; the main reason for this was the expiry of a hydrogen supply contract in Italy. At the end of 2014, the plant was transferred to the customer and since then, the plant has ceased to make a contribution to revenue.
Linde also disclosed a number of other positive trends across the group, including a solid order backlog maintained in its Engineering Division (€3.78bn) and the continuation of a ‘very positive’ trend in operating cash flow, rising by more than 25% (to €2.39bn) when compared with the figure for the prior-year period of €1.88bn. Further, Linde does not expect any additional restructuring costs in the remaining part of the year, beyond the €192m recognised in the first nine months of 2015.
Looking ahead, Linde anticipates that it will generate group revenue in the 2015 financial year of between €17.9bn and €18.5bn, depending on the evolution of economic trends and exchange rate movements. It expects to achieve an increase in group operating profit in 2015 to between €4.1bn and €4.3bn.
In the Gases Division, Linde is seeking to achieve revenue of between €15.1bn and €15.5bn and operating profit of between €4.1bn and €4.3 bn in the 2015 financial year.