After witnessing a return to growth in Q1 2010, Air Liquide has seen this positive trend continue in Q2 and a first half 2010 characterised by a solid progression of both sales and profits.

Group revenues reached €6.516m at 30th June 2010, representing an increase of 9.7% compared to first half 2009’s reported sales.

Air Liquide notes that ‘Business in the first half was characterised by a solid progression of both sales and profits, as well as a recovery in growth projects’ and its objectives for 2010 are maintained.

In Gas and Services alone, total sales stood at €5.695m, up 13.4% on a reported basis and up 9.5% on a comparable basis.

After returning to growth in Q1 2010, all businesses and geographies continued to improve in Q2, with a continuing contrast between emerging economies and mature economies – where volumes are gradually returning to their pre-crisis levels.

Operating income recurring increased 22% to €1.084m, while the operating margin reached 16.6% due to an increase in customer volume demand and the effectiveness of operational control measures. Net profit (group share) was €676m, up 13.3% versus first half 2009.

Operating cash flow rose 16.7% at €1.266m, and net debt was stable compared to 30th June 2009. The number of investment projects has increased significantly since the beginning of the year and as a result, Air Liquide announces that its portfolio of opportunities reached €4.7bn in June.

Notable highlights for the period include strong growth in emerging economies and a number of long-term contracts signed in China in particular, site takeovers in environments where customers are increasingly outsourcing their gas production, new liquid production capacities (in Brazil, India and Russia) and new solar energy contracts in Asia, and continued acquisitions in homecare & healthcare.

Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, stated, “In the first half of 2010, the group posted a solid progression in sales and profits compared to both 2009 and pre-crisis level of 2008. This sound performance is due not only to continually increasing customer demand but also to the group’s ability to adapt to a new environment thanks to its ALMA program.”

“Growth projects are picking up at a moderate pace in mature economies, but at a sustained pace in emerging economies. The group’s portfolio of investments opportunities is now back to its pre-crisis level.”

Looking forward to a strong six months to come, Potier concluded, “In this context, and based on current trends, we maintain our objective of continuous growth in net profit in 2010, in line with our long-term performance.”