In the first nine months of fiscal 2005, the technology group Linde achieved increases in sales and operating profit (EBITA) and refined its forecast for the whole year.
Professor Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, president of the executive board of Linde AG, said: \\$quot;Our performance is self-evident. As a group, we have become more effective and productive. Therefore, we have created the conditions necessary to continue with the successful implementation of our strategy, which is designed to achieve sustainable income-related growth and to realize our ambitious target returns.\\$quot;
In the nine months to September 30, Linde achieved a 7.8 percent increase in group sales to 6.833 billion euros (2004: 6.337 billion euros), based on comparable prior year figures*. While sales outside Germany rose 8.9 per cent to 5.435 billion euros (2004: 4.991 billion euros), sales within Germany showed an increase of 3.9 per cent to 1.398 billion euros (2004: 1.346 billion euros). Incoming orders of 7.903 billion euros (2004: 6.663 billion euros) were also higher, 18.6 percent above those for the same period in 2004.
Linde's earnings also continued to improve in terms of all the performance indicators. Group EBITA rose in the first nine months of the year to 590 million euros. Compared with the prior year figure of 502 million euros, this represents an increase of 17.5 per cent. Earnings before taxes on income (EBT) rose 25.3 percent to 496 million euros (2004: 396 million euros), while net income of 311 million euros was 22.4 per cent higher than the figure in 2004 of 254 million euros. The figure for earnings per share (EPS) at the end of September was 2.60 euros (2004: 2.13 euros).
Based on comparable prior year figures, Linde now anticipates for the whole year 2005 an improvement in group earnings of at least ten per cent over the figures for 2004 and an increase in Group sales.
All the business segments contributed to the overall positive business trends in the first nine months of 2005.
Sales in the Linde Gas division increased in the first nine months of the year by 10.8 per cent to 3.278 billion euros (2004: 2.958 billion euros). During the same period, EBITA rose 11.9 per cent to 519 million euros (2004: 464 million euros). This improvement in earnings was underpinned by the optimisation program, which was implemented as planned.
All the product segments in the gases business saw growth during the reporting period. The highest growth rate was achieved by the on-site segment, which supplies industrial gases to major industrial customers from plants situated directly on the user's site. This segment experienced a 21.2 per cent increase in sales to 716 million euros (2004: 591 million euros). Sales in the bulk segment rose 8.8 per cent in comparison with the prior year period to 910 million euros (2004: 836 million euros), while the cylinder business saw a 4.5 per cent increase in sales to 1.231 billion euros (2004: 1.178 billion euros).