US Valley National Gases reported net earnings for the first quarter ended 30 September 2005 increased by 31 per cent to $0.21 per diluted share, as compared to $0.16 per diluted share for the same period last year.

Valley National Gases’ vice chairman and chief executive officer, William A. Indelicato, said: “Through prudent cost management we continue to demonstrate our ability to leverage expenses as we grow the business.

“Another record earnings quarter for us was realised primarily as a result of our operating leverage and stable product margins. We continue to see evidence of sustained industrial activity in most of our markets.”

Mr. Indelicato continued: “The integration of our most recent acquisition in Southeastern Michigan is progressing favourably. Although the business was only acquired on 30 June, it was accretive during this first quarter under Valley ownership. Also, our pending acquisition in Minnesota and South Dakota is progressing on schedule with a planned closing date of 31 October. We also expect this acquisition to be accretive during the eight months of Valley ownership in this fiscal year.”

Net sales increased $5.5 million or 15.1 per cent to $41.7 million in the first quarter ended 30 September 2005, compared to the prior year period. Same store sales increased $2.2 million for the quarter, or six per cent, as compared to the prior year quarter. Hard goods sales increased by $0.7 million, or five per cent and industrial gases increased by $0.4 million or four per cent propane sales increased $1.1 million, or 16 per cent.

Operating, distribution and administrative expenses increased $2.0 million, or 15 per cent, for the quarter as compared to the same period last year. As a per cent of sales, operating distribution and administrative expenses were 37.1 per cent for the quarter as compared to 37 per cent for the same quarter last year.