The SOL Group has announced consolidated sale of €84.7 million, up 7.7% on the same quarter the in previous year.

Gross operating profit came in at €19.7 million, which is one million Euros less than the first quarter 2004. Net operating profit for Q1 2005 has been recorded as €9.9 million compared with €10.4 million for the previous year.

The negative difference in operating profit in 2005 is due to the capital gain realised in Q1 2004 of €1.1 million, on the sale of material fixed assets that were not being used. Net of this effect, the gross operating profit and the net operating profit registered a growth of 5.7% and 6.3% respectively.

In the technical gases business the Group achieved a positive growth of 4.5%, due to development of overseas activity.

Growth in the homecare business, in which the Group operates through VIVISOL, has an increase of 16.7%.

Capital expenditure for the Group was recorded at €15.3 million during the first quarter of 2005, whilst total net debt of the Group was €72.7 million. The figure recorded at 31st December 2004 was €75.2 million.

Commenting on the results, Vice President of SOL S.p.A Marco Annoni said, \\$quot;Despite the lasting uncertain climate which continue to characterise the economic contest, particularly unfavourable during the first quarter especially in Italy, the positive results achieved underline our capacity to growing, based on innovation and diversification.\\$quot;

Talking about the outlook for 2005, Aldo Fumagalli Romario President of SOL S.p.A., \\$quot;...our target is to confirm the increasing trend of turnover and to improve the profitability of the Group.\\$quot;

The Sol Group is a holding company to a multinational group of 45 companies with 1,470 employees, involved in the area of technical gases and home-care assistance, operating in 15 European countries.