Praxair reported second-quarter net income and diluted earnings per share of $429 million and $1.42, 1% and 3% above the prior-year quarter, respectively.

Sales in the second quarter were $2,811 million, 2% below the prior-year quarter. Sales growth was 6%, excluding negative foreign currency translation and cost pass-through effects.

Underlying sales growth was driven by strong volumes and higher pricing in North America in most end markets, including energy, manufacturing and metals.

Sales in Asia reflect slower growth offset by new plant start-ups for chemicals and metals customers. Europe and South America sales continued to be impacted by overall weak macro-economic conditions and significant foreign currency headwinds.

Operating profit in the second quarter was $636 million, compared to $627 million in the prior-year quarter. The increase was driven by higher overall volumes, higher pricing and productivity, partially offset by currency translation effects. Operating profit in North America grew by 11%, but was partially offset by lower operating profit in the other geographic segments.

Second-quarter cash flow from operations was a record $725 million and capital expenditures were $564 million, primarily for new production plants under long-term contracts with customers. The company paid dividends of $164 million and repurchased $104 million of stock, net of issuances.

Commenting on the financial results and business outlook, chairman, president and chief executive officer Steve Angel said, “North America, our largest region, experienced solid growth and improved operating leverage. Europe and South America were negatively impacted by weaker currencies and macro-economic conditions. Asia sales benefited from new project start-ups to supply customers under long-term contracts.”

“Our backlog of large projects with customer contracts remains strong at $2.5 billion and new customer proposal activity remains at healthy levels.”

For the third quarter of 2012, Praxair expects diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.35 to $1.40, reflecting weaker foreign exchange rates both sequentially and year-over-year. For the full year of 2012, the company expects diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $5.60 to $5.70 at current exchange rates.