Third quarter 2021: Strong sales growth and high momentum in development projects for the energy transition and in Electronics
- Press Releases
Commenting on 3rd quarter sales for 2021, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, stated:
“The third quarter confirms the continued sales growth observed in the first half-year. All activities are increasing: Gas & Services in all regions of the world, Engineering & Construction and Global Markets & Technologies, in a more favorable market environment.
Revenue in the third quarter amounted to 5.8 billion euros, i.e. +17.2% as published and +7.1% in comparable terms. This good performance illustrates Group’s strong positioning on its markets and the robustness of its business model, in the context of a strong surge in energy prices.
Within Gas & Services, which accounts for 96% of sales, activity is particularly supported by the momentum of the Electronics industry, the continued recovery of the Industrial Merchant business and the robustness of Healthcare activities. Mobilization of teams continued this quarter in fighting the pandemic in several regions of the world, particularly in the supply of medical oxygen. Geographically, activity levels are particularly strong in the Americas and Europe, and more contrasted in Asia.
The Group continues its momentum of improving its operating margin, driven by operational efficiencies of 314 million euros over the first nine months, in line with the annual target of more than 400 million euros, and active price management taking into account the inflationary context. Cash flow remains high above 23% of sales excluding energy impact.
12-month investment opportunities are increasing, now reaching 3.3 billion euros, with more than 40% related to the energy transition. In this context, the Group approved investments of nearly 900 million euros this quarter, notably in Large Industries and Electronics. One third of industrial investment decisions will contribute to the energy transition. The robust and diversified investment backlog, currently running at 3.1 billion euros, is particularly promising for future growth.
True to its growth model combining financial performance and societal performance, Air Liquide has multiple initiatives this quarter to promote hydrogen as a key solution to fight global warming.
In 2021, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to further increase its operating margin and to deliver recurring net profit growth at constant exchange rates.”
Group revenue for the 3rd quarter of 2021 totaled 5,834 million euros. The momentum in the first half-year continued this quarter, with sales up +7.1% on a comparable basis with the 3rd quarter of 2020 and about +6% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2019. Consolidated sales of Engineering & Construction grew +35.1% relative to lower activity level due to the pandemic-induced slowdown in 2020. Global Markets & Technologies continued double-digit growth: sales increased +15.9% in the 3rd quarter, buoyed by the strength of the biogas market and equipment sales for hydrogen mobility. The impact of energy this quarter was particularly strong at +8.9%, on top of positive currency (+0.5%) and significant scope (+0.7%) impacts. All in all, the Group reported a very robust +17.2% growth in as published revenue.
3rd quarter 2021 revenue for Gas & Services rose by +6.5% to 5,585 million euros, confirming the upward trend recorded in the first half-year, despite a less favorable basis of comparison. As published revenue for Gas & Services was up +16.9% in the 3rd quarter, benefiting from a strong energy effect (+9.3%) and positive currency (+0.4%) and significant scope (+0.7%) impacts.
- Gas & Services revenue in the Americas totaled 2,144 million euros in the 3rd quarter, an increase of +8.2%. Large Industries sales rose +7.4% driven by high demand and the ramp-up of new units. The Industrial Merchant business continued to recover, with a +7.5% increase in revenue. Electronics sales gained +6.6% in a thriving market. Lastly, Healthcare grew +14.5% and remains heavily involved in the fight against Covid-19.
- In the 3rd quarter, revenue in Europe rose by +5.8% to 2,038 million euros. Large Industries sales (+7.6%) expanded on strong demand in the Steel and Chemicals sectors and on increasing volumes in Refining. Up +7.2%, the Industrial Merchant business pursued its pick-up in sales across all markets and countries. Healthcare revenue increased +2.6%, despite exceptional high sales of ventilators in the 3rd quarter of 2020 to meet pandemic needs. It benefited from sustained sales of medical oxygen to hospitals and strong demand in Home Healthcare.
- Revenue in Asia-Pacific rose +4.1% in the 3rd quarter to 1,197 million euros. Large Industries revenue declined (-5.5%) due to the impact of China’s Dual Energy Control and customer maintenance turnarounds. The upward trend in the Industrial Merchant business continued with a +8.3% increase in sales, fueled by strong activity in China and the recovery in the rest of Asia. Electronics sales were up +10.8% in a very dynamic market with double-digit growth in sales of Carrier gases and high revenue generated by Equipment & Installations.
- Revenue in the Middle-East and Africa rose +10.4% to 206 million euros in the 3rd quarter. The sales of hydrogen in Saudi Arabia continued to recover, driven by the customer demand in the Yanbu basin. The surge in air gas volumes was very substantial as the 16 Sasol air separation units made their first contribution (an acquisition finalized in June). These sales were recognized as part of the significant scope effect, hence excluded from the comparable growth. In the Industrial Merchant business, sales continued to rise and are above the levels of the 3rd quarter of 2019. The Healthcare business stayed very buoyant supplying very large volumes of medical oxygen in pandemic-hit countries.
Large Industries sales rose +3.4%, despite the measures imposed in China to limit energy consumption at some customer plants. The Industrial Merchant business recovered further, with sales increasing +7.5% as gas sales were above 2019 levels and pricing impact accelerated significantly. Healthcare also recorded a strong performance: sales rose by +6.2%, despite a very high basis of comparison in 2020. Electronics posted strong sales growth of +10.4% in a very dynamic market.
Consolidated revenue from Engineering & Construction gained +35.1% to 81 million euros in the 3rd quarter.
Global Markets & Technologies posted a +15.9% increase in sales to 168 million euros in the 3rd quarter. Biogas retained strong momentum with new units ramping up and significant price impacts related to energy price increase. Revenue also includes hydrogen refueling station sales for mobility in Asia.
Efficiencies amounted to 314 million euros over the first nine months of the year, a slight increase of +0.9% compared with 2020, in line with the annual objective fixed at more than 400 million euros.
Cash flow from operating activities before changes in net working capital amounted to 3,701 million euros at the end of september 2021, an increase of +1.4% and of +4.6% excluding currency impact. This corresponds to a high level of 22.2% of sales and of 23.4% excluding energy impact. When including changes in working capital, the net cash flows from operating activities increased by +5.1% and +7.9% excluding currency impact.
Industrial investment decisions reached 866 million euros in the 3rd quarter, totaling more than 2.2 billion euros since the beginning of the year. Development momentum remained strong within Large Industries, particularly with the project to invest in a large-scale hydrogen and carbon monoxide production unit with integrated CO2 recycling. Momentum was also strong for investment decisions within the Electronics business with Carrier gases contracts signed in the United States and in China.
The 12-month portfolio of investment opportunities increased by more than 200 million euros to reach the very high total of 3.3 billion euros during the 3rd quarter.
The additional contribution to revenue of unit start-ups and ramp-ups remained high at 100 million euros during the 3rd quarter of 2021, including the acquisition of 16 air separation units from Sasol in South Africa. Thus, at the end of September, this figure amounted to 230 million euros, in line with the estimated contribution of 320 million euros for 2021.
Air Liquide Q3 2021_PR & Activity ReportDownload the document PDF (529.37 KB)