In the midst of an uncertain market with the insecure pricing of oil price, Air Liquide’s Chairman and CEO has described the 2014 financial results as a ‘solid performance’.
Consolidated revenue reached €15.358bn, an increase of 4.5% over 2013 on a comparable basis. On a reported basis, the increase was 0.9 %, reflecting an unfavourable currency impact over the first three quarters of 2014.
Gas & Services revenue, which reached €13.867bn, was up 4.1% on a comparable basis. This performance reflects the combined impact of organic business growth throughout the year and the contribution of start-ups, of new production unit ramp-ups, and of acquisitions.
On a comparable basis, all Gas & Services business lines saw revenue growth in 2014:
- Large Industries, up 3.6%, benefited from sustained demand for air gases and hydrogen in Asia, particularly in China, from higher sales of air gases in the US and in Latin America and from higher volumes of hydrogen for the Northern Europe refining sector.
- The good performance of Industrial Merchant, which was up 3.0%, is reflected in particular in high volumes in all product segments in China and by solid sales in North America, particularly in Canada. In Europe, where the situation is contrasted between the West and the East, a slight improvement was observed in the fourth quarter. Sales growth was robust in all developing economies (+9.0%).
- In Healthcare, up 3.7%, revenue grew in all geographic zones, posting double-digit growth in South America and in the developing economies of Asia. Growth was once again driven by sustained demand for home healthcare (+5.5%), despite significant tariff pressure in Europe, and by strong hygiene sales (+6.1%).
- Electronics showed robust growth of 12.0%. This performance was driven by higher carrier gases sales, especially in China and in the US, as well as specialty gas and advanced precursor (the ALOHA™ range) activity in the US, in Japan and in Taiwan. The American company Voltaix, acquired in 2013, also contributed to the performance of this business line in 2014.
Engineering & Technology revenue rose +15.6%, on a comparable basis, reflecting third-party customer project progress, while the order intake (€1.4bn) is at a good level.
The year has featured;
■ New contracts in growing markets: air gases in the major industrial basins of the US Gulf Coast and the Rhine-Ruhr region, in Brazil and in Australia; ultra-pure carrier gases for electronics in China
■ Further acquisitions in Home Healthcare: SEPRODOM and ARAIR Assistance in France
■ Innovation and technology: Supply of cryogenic equipment for the ITER project; new Engineering & Construction manufacturing centre in the United Arab Emirates
■ New developments for sustainable mobility: Extension of the hydrogen charging station network for fuel cell electric vehicles in the US, in Europe, and in Japan; acquisition of FordonsGas in Sweden
Commenting on the 2014 results, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, stated, “In a mixed environment that was also marked by rapid changes in exchange rates and the oil price, the group achieved a solid 2014 performance, in sales, operating margin and cash flow.”
“Revenue growth in 2014 was primarily driven by strong momentum in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the developing economies, and by robust Electronics activity. In Europe, performance remains contrasted, albeit with a slight improvement in the fourth quarter. Overall, on a comparable basis, all of our Gas & Services and Engineering & Technology businesses reported growth in the fourth quarter, as well as for the year as a whole.”
“In 2014, the group continued to improve its competitiveness, in particular through successful cost adjustments and substantial efficiency gains, which contributed to our increased operating margin.”
“The strength of the balance sheet, the investment backlog at €2.8bn, and the new contracts signed will contribute to growth in the next few years, as will the initiatives underway designed to accelerate innovation.”
“Assuming a comparable economic environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2015.”