Airgas, distributor of industrial, medical and speciality gases, has reported increased sales of 18 percent in its first quarter ending 30th June 2007, with sales of $915m and profits up by 34 percent against last year.

The company also raised its earnings guidance for fiscal 2008, while ten analysts estimate earnings of $2.57 per share for next year.

Acquisitions accounted for 11 percent of the first quarter sales growth and the company anticipates earnings of $0.57 to $0.60 per share for the second quarter, including an estimated $0.03 per share of integration expense from the Linde packaged gas transaction.

Peter McCausland, Airgas CEO, commented, $quot;We had an outstanding quarter. We continue to see good growth in non-residential construction and energy markets, and our strategic products are also performing well.$quot;

Net earnings for the first quarter were $51.7m, up 34 percent from the previous year's quarter, and for the full year the company will raise its earnings outlook to a range of $2.49 to $2.57 per share.