Airgas reports strong growth in Q3


Airgas, Inc recently reported strong growth in sales, operating income, and earnings for its third quarter ended 31st December 2006.

Third quarter sales grew to $787m, up 12 percent over the prior year. Acquisitions accounted for 5 percent of the growth, and total same-store sales increased 7 percent over robust growth levels in the prior year, driven equally by both hardgoods, and gas and rent.

For the nine months ended 31st December 2006, sales were $2.4bn up 13 percent from the prior year period. Year-to-date same-store sales growth was 9 percent, driven equally by both hardgoods, and gas and rent. Operating income for the nine months was $248m, an increase of 27 percent from the prior year period. The current period includes stock-based compensation expense of $9.9m. The prior year period includes losses related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita of $2.5m. Adjusting the prior year for the impact of stock-based compensation and hurricane losses, operating income for the nine months increased about 32 percent.

$quot;We had a great quarter,$quot; said Airgas chairman and chief executive officer Peter McCausland. $quot;Trends in non-residential construction, industrial production, and energy markets continued to support core revenue growth, and our strategic product platforms were strong.$quot;

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