Linde continues to successfully navigate the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, its CEO Steve Angel says as the industrial gas giant today released “strong” first quarter 2020 results.

Group income from continuing operations for the first quarter was $571m. Excluding Linde AG purchase accounting impacts and other charges, adjusted income from continuing operations was $1.09bn, up 9% versus prior year.

Linde’s sales for the first quarter were $6.73bn, 1% above prior year, excluding negative currency translation and cost pass-through.

Linde said price improved 2% and was attained across all geographic segments, but was partially offset by volume decrease of approximately 1% due mainly to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

First quarter operating profit was $733m. Adjusted operating profit of $1.3bn was 11% above prior year or 14% higher when excluding unfavourable currency translation effects.

First quarter operating cash flow of $1.3bn increased $279m or 26% over prior year. During the quarter, the company invested $803m in capital expenditures.

Commenting on the financial results, Angel said, “Linde delivered another strong quarter with EPS increasing 15%, excluding currency translation. Furthermore, operating cash flow grew 26% and operating profit margin expanded 240 basis points from prior year.”

“Linde entered 2020 with a very robust balance sheet, $10bn of contractually secured backlog and significant opportunities to enhance the portfolio and overall business quality - all of which will serve us well during these uncertain times. And, we continue to successfully navigate this crisis through the dedication and hard work of all Linde employees maintaining safe and reliable supply to our customers, including critical medical gases, services and equipment for those afflicted by Covid-19.”

Angel continued, “While it is very difficult to predict the future impact, I have full confidence in our ability to continue to create shareholder value given our resilient business model and inherent opportunities to mitigate macroeconomic headwinds.”

Segments

Americas sales of $2.67bn were 1% below prior-year quarter and down 2% sequentially, Linde said. Excluding negative currency translation and cost pass-through, sales versus prior year were up 4%.

Price increased 2% and volume also grew 2% led mainly by the resilient healthcare and food & beverage end markets. Operating profit of $661m was 24.7% of sales, up 310 basis points versus prior-year quarter.

APAC (Asia Pacific) sales of $1.33bn were 6% below prior year and decreased 5% sequentially. Excluding negative currency translation, sales versus prior year were down 3%.

Price increased 2% but was more than offset by negative volumes driven by customer shutdowns due to the Covid-19 impact, primarily in China, and higher sale of equipment in the prior-year quarter, Linde said.

Operating profit of $281m was 21% of sales, up $8m and 190 basis points versus prior year.

EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) sales of $1.63bn were down 3% versus prior year and negative 1% sequentially. Excluding unfavourable currency and cost pass-through, sales increased 1% versus prior year.

Pricing was up 2% but was partially offset by negative volumes primarily due to weaker manufacturing activity.

Operating profit of $355m was 21.7% of sales, up 110 basis points versus prior-year quarter.

Linde Engineering sales were $608m and operating profit was $91m or 15% of sales. Operating profit grew 17% versus prior year due primarily to strong project execution and productivity initiatives.