Praxair, Inc reported first-quarter net income growth and diluted earnings per share of $419m and $1.38, 5% and 7% above the prior-year quarter, respectively.

Sales in the first quarter were $2.840m, an increase of 5% compared to $2.702m in the previous year.

Sales grew 8% from the prior-year quarter, excluding negative foreign currency and cost pass-through effects.

Strongest sales growth was seen in North America and Asia in the manufacturing, metals and energy markets.

Growth was slower in Europe and South America due to weaker economic conditions in those areas.

Commenting on the financial results and business outlook, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel said, “Our first-quarter results demonstrated continued strong growth in North America, where we are well-positioned to continue to grow from greater sales to customers in the chemical, energy and manufacturing industries who are benefitting from low natural gas costs.”

“We expect the South America and Asia businesses to continue to grow as we start up new projects driven by increasing consumer demand and infrastructure investment.”

“New large-project proposal activity continues to be robust and we remain focused on growing the business at continued high levels of profitability and return on capital.”

For the second quarter of 2012, Praxair expects diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.40 to $1.45. For the full year of 2012, Praxair expects sales in the range of $11.6 to $11.9bn.

The company expects diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $5.75 to $5.90.

Full-year capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $2.1 to 2.4 bn and the effective tax rate is forecasted to remain at about 28%.