Praxair, Inc. has reported third quarter net income and diluted earnings per share of $429 million and $1.40, 14% and 16% above the prior year quarter, respectively.

Third quarter sales were $2,896 million, 14% above the previous year quarter. According to the American based industrial gas company, sales increased across all geographic regions with strong growth from manufacturing, metals, energy and chemicals markets. Overall however, sales only rose 1% sequentially from the second quarter due primarily to higher volumes.

Operating profit in the third quarter was $632 million, up 15% from the prior-year quarter, reflecting higher volumes and prices combined with cost savings from productivity programs.

The company paid dividends of $150 million and purchased $251 million of stock, net of issuances. The after tax return on capital ratio and return on equity for the quarter both increased, to 14.8% and 28.3%, respectively.

Commenting on the business outlook, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Angel said, “We are continuing to see solid growth in all geographies with the exception of Europe. Proposal activity remains at healthy levels and our backlog of large customer projects under construction is at a record $2.7 billion, 25% above 2010 levels.”

He continued, “Most importantly, we remain confident in our ability to bring growth to the bottom line through our commitment to productivity and flawless execution.”

For the fourth quarter of 2011, Praxair expects diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.33 to $1.38.

For the full year of 2011, the firm has forecast sales in the area of $11.2 billion and diluted earnings per share in the range of $5.40 to $5.45.