Third quarter 2022: Strong sales growth and solid investment momentum illustrating the resilience of the business model
- Press Releases
Commenting on 3rd quarter sales for 2022, François Jackow, Chief Executive Officer of Air Liquide, stated:
“The Group maintained a strong growth momentum during the third quarter despite a complex macroeconomic environment. Revenue, at close to 8.3 billion euros, was up +8.3% on a comparable basis and up +41.3% on a published basis, demonstrating the robustness of Air Liquide’s business model in the context of a surge in energy prices. All activities improved: Gas & Services, Engineering & Construction and Global Markets & Technologies.
Within Gas & Services, which accounts for 96% of sales, the business was driven in particular by the momentum of Electronics, the solid performance of Industrial Merchant and growth in Healthcare. In terms of geographies, activity was particularly strong in the Americas and Asia, and was more contrasted in Europe.
The Group resolutely pursues its continuous performance improvement measures. Against a backdrop of high inflation, value creation and dynamic pricing management in Industrial Merchant allow the Group to recover the increase in costs while, in Large Industries, energy price increases are contractually passed on to customers. Operational efficiencies, in an inflationary context, stood at the very good level of 262 million euros over nine months. The business portfolio is actively managed. Cash flow remained high at 24% of sales.
12-month investment opportunities remain high, at more than 3 billion euros. More than 40% are related to the energy transition. In this context, the Group has decided to invest 1.1 billion euros this quarter, notably in Electronics and in projects that contribute to the fight against climate change. The robust and diversified investment backlog, currently running at 3.4 billion euros, is particularly promising for future growth.
With our clear strategic plan, ADVANCE, which further reinforces the resilience of its business model, for full year 2022, assuming no significant economic disruption, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to further increase its operating margin and to deliver recurring net profit growth, at constant exchange rates.”
Highlights of the 3rd quarter 2022
Under long-term contracts, investment of around 500 million euros in the construction of three new ultra-high purity industrial gas production plants for two of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan.
Hydrogen and energy transition:
- Investment of 200 million euros by Shanghai Chemical Industry Park Industrial Gases (SCIPIG), an Air Liquide subsidiary, in the construction of two hydrogen production units with carbon capture and recycling technology in Shanghai Chemical Industry Park.
- Launch by Air Liquide of its biomethane business in China with the construction of its first production plant – with a capacity of 75 GWh/year – in Huai’an City, in the Jiangsu Province.
- Development of the home healthcare offering with the acquisition of the diabetes division of Ethitech in South Africa by VitalAire, home healthcare subsidiary of Air Liquide.
- Russia divestment project: signing of a letter of intent with the local management team to transfer Russian operations to them in the form of an MBO (Management Buy Out) as part of an orderly, viable and responsible transfer of operations. The execution of this project remains subject to Russian regulatory approvals.
- Credit rating upgrade by Moody’s for the Air Liquide Group, from “A3” to “A2” for its long-term rating and from “P2” to “P1” for its short-term rating. The outlook associated with the ratings is stable.
- Successful launch of a long-term bond issue for a total of 600 million euros to finance the Group’s long-term growth.
- Sale of Air Liquide’s Industrial Merchant activities in Saudi Arabia, in line with the Group’s strategy to regularly review its asset portfolio and focus on selected fast developing areas and activities.
- Gold medal awarded to Air Liquide by EcoVadis, the world’s largest provider of business sustainability ratings, for the Group’s action on Sustainability for a sixth year in a row.
- As of September 15, the Air Liquide Foundation has supported more than 35 associative projects, supervised by 15 Group subsidiaries, for the benefit of 60,000 refugees from Ukraine in 7 countries thanks to a financial donation of 700,000 euros.
Group revenue for the 3rd quarter of 2022 totaled 8,247 million euros, a strong growth of +8.3% on a comparable basis with the 3rd quarter of 2021. The Group’s revenue as published posted a significant increase of +41.3% in the 3rd quarter, with a record high energy impact of +24.4% as well as a favorable currency impact of +8.8%, while the significant scope impact was limited at -0.2%.
This performance was delivered in a challenging context of exceptionally high energy prices, strong inflation, strain on supply chains and the war in Ukraine. The Group benefited from a solid business model and diversity of business reach in terms of geographies, businesses, end-markets and customers which ensured a resilient performance and allowed the Group to take advantage of all growth opportunities. Its core positioning in growth markets of the future (in particular the energy transition, Semiconductors and Healthcare) reinforces these attributes.
Gas & Services revenue amounted to 7,897 million euros in the 3rd quarter of 2022, up by +7.2% on a comparable basis. As published revenue for Gas & Services increased by a significant +41.4% in the 3rd quarter, benefiting from a historically high energy impact (+25.6%) and a positive currency impact (+8.9%). The significant scope impact was limited (-0.3%).
- Gas & Services revenue in the Americas totaled 2,936 million euros in the 3rd quarter, representing a strong comparable growth of +12.8%. The Large Industries business (+5.7%) benefited from the ramp-up of new units and solid demand. In the Industrial Merchant business, sales increased by +16.5%, driven by the marked rise in prices and a raise in volumes, excluding helium. Healthcare revenue was up +4.5% due to dynamic activity in the Proximity Care business in the United States and the Home Healthcare business in Latin America, despite a strong decrease in volumes of medical oxygen for the treatment of covid-19 compared to 2021. A strong increase in Electronics sales (+10.3%) also contributed to the dynamic growth in the Americas.
- Revenue in Europe was stable (-0.2%) at 3,266 million euros in the 3rd quarter. Activity was contrasted from one business line to another. Large Industries was impacted by a slowing demand from Steel and Chemical customers but volumes showed a limited decrease in a context of soaring energy prices. The difference between comparable sales growth (-27.5%) and volume evolution (-6%) is due to a calculation effect of the energy impact. Indeed, for Large Industries, the method values the energy impact of the year on the basis of the volumes of the preceding year times the difference of energy prices. Consequently, in the 3rd quarter, the rise in energy prices being exceptionally strong and volumes slightly down, the energy impact is amplified, as well as a combined effect, which reduced comparable sales of Large Industries. In Industrial Merchant, sales rose by more than +30%, with the pricing impact reaching a new record high of +29.9% and volumes remaining resilient. The Healthcare business saw strong growth of +5.8%, driven by dynamic Home Healthcare and despite a high basis of comparison due to the covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
- Revenue in Asia Pacific rose by +10.9% on a comparable basis in the 3rd quarter to 1,474 million euros. It benefited from particularly dynamic activity in the Electronics business (+21.8%). Large Industries sales grew by +3.1%, driven by China. Industrial Merchant revenue rose by +8.9%, benefiting from the acceleration of price increases.
- Revenue in the Middle East and Africa slightly decreased by -1.2% to 221 million euros in the 3rd quarter. The Large Industries sales grew and those of the Industrial Merchant were impacted by small divestitures in the Middle East. In Healthcare, medical oxygen sales for the treatment of the covid-19 were lower than in 2021.
As in the 1st half-year, the two drivers for the 3rd quarter were the Industrial Merchant business, which grew very sharply by +18.0% on a comparable basis due to a record pricing impact and resilient volumes, and the Electronics business, which saw revenues climb by +20.9%. Large Industries sales were down by -10.4% with volumes decreasing by -2%, the gap being explained by an effect related to the calculation of the energy impact in a context of exceptionally strong increase of energy prices in Europe (see explanations above). A strong growth in the Americas, benefiting from unit ramp-ups, and a solid activity in Asia partially offset the slowing demand in Europe. Healthcare recorded robust growth (+4.5%), driven in particular by a dynamic Home Healthcare business and despite lower volumes of medical oxygen for the treatment of covid-19.
Consolidated revenue from Engineering & Construction totaled 115 million euros in the 3rd quarter, posting a comparable growth of +37.3% and reflecting the increase in order intake from third-party customers in recent quarters.
Global Markets & Technologies posted a sharp +32.7% increase in revenue to 235 million euros in the 3rd quarter. Biogas retained strong momentum and benefited from sales prices increase linked to the spike in energy price.
Prices in the Industrial Merchant activity rose sharply by +18.0% in the 3rd quarter, demonstrating the Group's ability to transfer the sharp rise in costs. Efficiencies amounted to 262 million euros over the first nine months of the year. In a context of high inflation, unfavorable to procurement efficiencies, limiting the cost increase remained a priority and increased focus was put on operational efficiencies. The portfolio management was particularly active with the integration of 12 acquisitions and the completion of 4 divestitures since the beginning of the year.
Cash flow from operating activities before changes in net working capital amounted to 4,569 million euros at the end of September 2022, a strong growth of + 23.5% in a context of high inflation, demonstrating the business model resilience. This corresponds to a high level of 23.8% of sales excluding energy impact.
Industrial and financial investment decisions reached a high level of 1,114 million euros in the 3rd quarter of 2022. They account for 2,910 million euros year to date compared with 2,302 million euros over the same period in 2021, excluding the acquisition of 16 Air Separation Units from Sasol in South Africa for approximately 480 million euros. The investment backlog was high at 3.4 billion euros.
The additional contribution to sales of unit start-ups and ramp-ups totaled 288 million euros at the end of September. The contribution expected for 2022 is between 400 and 425 million euros, a slight decline of 10 million euros compared with previous estimates due to the deconsolidation of the Group’s subsidiary in Russia as of September 1st.
The 12-month portfolio of investment opportunities stood at more than 3.0 billion euros at the end of September 2022, driven by projects linked to the energy transition, which accounted for more than 40% of the portfolio.
For the sixth year in a row, Air Liquide has been awarded a gold medal for its sustainability performance from EcoVadis, one of the world’s largest providers of business sustainability ratings. Air Liquide is hence positioned in the top 3% of all companies evaluated.
- ^ Cash Flow from Operations before changes in WCR on Sales excluding energy pass through impact.
- ^ Russian projects have been removed from Q3 2022 Backlog.
- ^ Operating margin excluding energy impact. Recurring net profit excluding exceptional and significant transactions that have no impact on the Operating Income Recurring, and excluding the impact of any US tax reform in 2022.
- ^ Including the additional contribution from Sasol ASUs takeover accounted for in significant perimeter (72 million euros at the end of September 2022 and estimated at 135 million euros in 2022).
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