The technology company The Linde Group continued to see profitable growth in the first quarter of 2012, with increases in group revenue and group operating profit.

“We have made a good start to the new financial year and are confident of meeting our targets,” said Professor Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG.

“Even if global economic trends are not as dynamic in 2012 as in 2011, we continue to assume that we will achieve increases in group revenue and group operating profit when compared with the prior year.”

said Professor Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG

Linde believes that it is also on track for the coming years. “We stand for continuity and reliability and are pleased to confirm our medium-term targets,” declared CEO Reitzle. “In the 2014 financial year, we will be aiming to generate group operating profit of at least €4bn and ROCE (return on capital employed) of at least 14%.”

In the first quarter of 2012, group revenue rose by 5.4% to €3.505bn, compared with €3.325bn for the first three months of 2011.

After adjusting for exchange rate effects, the increase in revenue was 3.1%.

Linde increased group operating profit by 6.2% to €808m (2011: €761m), partly as a result of the rigorous implementation of its HPO (High Performance Organisation) programme, a holistic concept for sustainable process optimisation and productivity gains. The group operating margin rose by 20 basis points as a result, to 23.1% (2011: 22.9%).

The slight increase in economic output in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the first quarter of 2011 also fuelled demand for gases worldwide.

Linde was able to benefit from this positive trend in all product areas. The group has a global footprint and a strong market position especially in the emerging economies.

In a statement, Linde stated it remains committed to its original target for the gases business of growing at a faster pace than the market and continuing to increase productivity.

In the on-site business, Linde has a healthy project pipeline, which will continue to make a substantial contribution to revenue and earnings trends for the rest of the 2012 financial year and especially in subsequent years.

The group expects its liquefied gases and cylinder gas business to perform in line with macroeconomic trends.

In the Healthcare product area, Linde is anticipating continuing steady growth. Additional momentum will be generated here by the acquisition of Air Products’ Continental European homecare business.

Against this background, Linde continues to expect that revenue generated by the Gases Division in the 2012 financial year will exceed revenue generated in 2011 and that operating profit will improve.