Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. reported first quarter 2012 net income of $64.2 million, or $0.76 per diluted share during a successful start to the year for the welding equipment manufacturer.

The Cleveland, OH-based company saw sales rise 21.4 percent to $727 million in the first quarter 2012, versus $599 million for the same period of 2011.

Operating income for the first quarter increased $32.2 million to $91.7 million, or 12.6 percent of sales, from $59.5 million or 9.9 percent of sales, in the comparable 2011 period. Net income for first quarter 2012 was $64.2 million.

“We are pleased to report excellent results for the first quarter of 2012,” commented John M. Stropki, chairman and CEO.

“We are pleased to report excellent results for the first quarter of 2012. We remain focused on our global growth strategies, which include acquisitions, new product introductions and increasing our commercial presence worldwide”

“Sales levels for the quarter were a record and overall profitability and operating cash flows improved significantly. Our strong operating performance in the quarter was the result of improved product mix, better pricing dynamics in all of our business segments and the positive impact from recent acquisitions. The continued strength in both sales and profitability during the quarter were particularly positive considering the ongoing economic challenges in many of our key markets.”

Stropki continued, “The excellent start to 2012 and improved results from all of our operating segments provides the company with good momentum to capture available market opportunities in an uncertain economic and political environment. We are seeing robust year over year sales growth with particular strength in equipment and automation.”

“We remain focused on our global growth strategies, which include acquisitions, new product introductions and increasing our commercial presence worldwide. In addition, our ongoing attention to continuous improvements in our operations will provide the increased operating leverage and flexibility required to execute our long-term strategic objectives.”

Lincoln Electric is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of arc welding products, robotic arc welding systems, plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment and has a leading global position in the brazing and soldering alloys market.