Air Liquide has declared its full year 2013 results, with consolidated revenue rising 3.7% to €15.225bn and its Gas & Services revenue in particular growing 4%.
All Gas & Services business lines reported growth, while Large Industries benefited from higher demand for hydrogen for the refinery and petrochemical industries in the US and for oxygen in Eastern Europe.
Healthcare grew across all geographic zones and was driven by acquisitions in Europe, and improvements seen in Industrial Merchant were illustrated by the resilience of both volumes and prices in North America and higher sales of helium and specialty gases in Asia.
Air Liquide noted that a pick-up in Electronics began to materialise in the third quarter of 2013 thanks to sales of equipment and installations in the US and in China, and the high profile acquisition of Voltaix.
Commenting on the results, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, enthused, “The progress the group made during 2013 reflects the return to a more supportive economic climate during the year and an increase in the pace of growth in the US and China.”
“We delivered another improvement in our operating income through a combination of our global presence, initiatives in growth markets and reinforced efficiency programmes. This performance demonstrates that the group is aligned with its goals of regular improvement in its margin and of net profit growth.”
“Throughout 2013, the group continued to adapt its structures to the dynamics of its markets, to ensure that it has the best possible positioning for ensuring both its competitiveness and long-term development.”
“…investment decisions totaling €2.7bn, the conclusion of new contracts, and the commissioning of 23 production units will contribute to our growth in the years to come, as will the innovations and technologies being developed”
In addition to the improvements recorded across its business units, a high level of order intake for Engineering & Technology (€1.9bn) is thought to confirm Air Liquide’s customers’ confidence over the medium term.
Looking ahead, Potier added, “In addition, investment decisions totaling €2.7bn, the conclusion of new contracts, and the commissioning of 23 production units will contribute to our growth in the years to come, as will the innovations and technologies being developed.”
“In this context, and barring a degradation of the environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2014.”
Figures in detail
With such performance across the board, Air Liquide’s 2013 consolidated revenue reached €15.225bn, an increase of 3.7% adjusted for currency and natural gas impacts – though slightly down (-0.7%) on a reported basis.
Gas & Services revenue rose by 4% adjusted for currency and natural gas impacts, reflecting the improvement in business over the course of the year.
Operating margin, which was positively impacted by the high level of efficiency gains amounting to €303m, reached 16.9% (+20 basis points), while net profit (group share) was €1.640bn, an increase of 5.5% adjusted for currency impact and 3.1% as published.
Cash flow (after change in Working Capital Requirements) for the year rose by 3.5% and net debt, which stands at €6.062bn, is in a slight decrease and represents 56% of shareholders’ equity.
The return on capital employed (ROCE), at 11.1%, is in line with the target range of between 11% and 13%.
Gas & Services activity continued to make progress in all business lines, especially in the Americas and developing economies. The latter continued to show sustained momentum, up 11% on a like-for-like basis, with advanced economies showing a more modest rise of 1% and Western Europe and Japan gradually stabilising.
Greater efforts on costs and efficiency plans for a high €303m contributed to increasing the operating margin by nearly 20 basis points to 16.9% despite negative pricing in Healthcare in Europe and in specialty gases in Electronics.
Tenure to continue?
Further to these figures, it has been confirmed that Air Liquide’s Board of Directors approved draft resolutions to be submitted to the next Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Shareholders, in particular the renewal of Benoît Potier, Paul Skinner and Jean-Paul Agon as directors, for a period of four years.
The Board of Directors met on 17th February 2014 and also confirmed its intention of reappointing Benoît Potier to serve as Chairman and CEO at the meeting to be held after the AGM. The Board also confirmed its consent for adopting the principle of designating a Senior Director by the Board of Directors when the Chairman of the Board of Directors also assumes the role of CEO.