Praxair announced a record net income of $181 million and diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 55 cents for the first quarter of 2004.

The forth quarter earnings were 17 per cent up on the previous year's forth quarter from $155 million and 47 cents respectively, in 2003. The rise is said to be from higher sales and operating profit.

Sales in the quarter increased 22% from $1,461 million in 2003 to $1,786 million in 2004. Operating profit grew 18% to $289 million from $244 million in 2003, reflecting an operating margin of 16.2%. Praxair's sales were up in all their global markets, with the strongest sales coming from the energy, metals, healthcare, and industrial manufacturing sectors.

Praxair's full 2004 net income is reported at $697 million with diluted earnings per share of $2.10. This represents a 19% increase on 2003 with net income of $585 million and EPS of $1.77. Full year sales were $6,594 million, up17% on 2003.

Commenting on the company's results, Chairman and CEO Dennis H. Reilly said, Our disciplined focus on profitable growth around the world continues to differentiate us from the competition.

The table below shows Praxair's performance in their international markets.