Industrial gases giant Linde plc revealed strong year-on-year (YOY) growth as reported in its fourth quarter (Q4) and full year 2021 results released today, which saw the company grow its EPS by 30% and operating cash flow by 31%.

Linde reported income from continuing operations as $1.2bn and diluted earnings per share of $1.98. 

Excluding Linde AG purchase accounting impacts and other charges, adjusted income from continuing operations was $1.4bn, up 18% compared to the prior year and 1% sequentially. 

Steve Angel, CEO, commented on the financial results and business outlook, saying, “2021 was another successful year for the company thanks to the extraordinary work of our employees worldwide.” 

“The Linde team delivered another quarter of record financial results by growing EPS 20%, operating cash flow 33%, and increasing ROC to 17.7% - all while positioning the company for future growth with a contractually secured project backlog of $13bn.” 

“In addition, the company stepped up its commitment to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, targeting a 35% reduction by 2035 and climate neutrality by 2050.” 

He added, “Looking ahead, the economic outlook remains uncertain. However, I have confidence in our ability to grow EPS double-digit percent from our industry-leading supply network and project backlog.” 

“And as I transition to Chairman, with Sanjiv Lamba taking the CEO reins, I’m convinced the best days for Linde lie ahead.” 

Q4 

Linde’s sales for Q4 were $8.3bn, 14% above prior year and 8% sequentially. 

Underlying sales increased 9% from 3% price attainment and 6% higher volumes, mostly from the electronics, chemicals and energy end markets. 

Sequentially, underlying sales increased 2%, led by higher price across all geographic segments. 

Q4 operating profit was $1.3bn. Adjusted operating profit of $1.8bn was up 14% versus prior year led by higher price, strong volumes and continued productivity initiatives across all segments. 

Q4 operating cash flow of $3.2bn increased 33% versus prior year and 26% sequentially. 

After capital expenditures of $839m, free cash flow was $2.4bn, up 70% versus prior year.

Full year 

For full-year 2021, sales were $30.8bn, 13% above 2020. 

Operating profit was $5bn and adjusted operating profit was $7.2bn, 24% above prior year. 

In 2021, Linde generated strong operating cash flow of $9.7bn, up 31% versus prior year. 

The company invested $3.1bn in capital expenditures and paid dividends of $2.2bn. In addition, Linde repurchased $4.6bn of stock, net of issuances. 

Q4 Segments 

Americas sales of $3.2bn grew 16% versus prior-year quarter and 2% sequentially. 

Compared with Q4 2020, underlying sales increased 10% driven by 3% higher pricing and 7% higher volume, primarily in the energy and chemicals end markets. 

Sequentially, higher pricing of 2% was offset by seasonally lower volumes. 

Divestitures were driven by an accounting deconsolidation of a joint venture, which reduced sales 12% versus prior year but had no impact on earnings per share. 

Operating profit of $380m was 23.9% of sales, 70 basis points above prior year or 140 basis points higher when excluding the effects of cost pass-through. 

EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) sales of $2.06bn were up 18% versus prior year and grew 8% sequentially. 

Compared with Q4 2020, underlying sales grew 8%, primarily led by 6% higher pricing and 2% higher volumes. 

Sequentially, underlying sales grew 4% driven by price while volumes were flat. 

Operating profit of $475m was 23.1% of sales, 190 basis points below prior year. 

Linde Engineering sales were $946m, 25% above prior year, and operating profit was $150m or 15.9% of sales. 

Order intake for the quarter was $799m and third-party sale of equipment backlog was $9.6bn.