Consolidated 2007 revenue rose to €11,801 million, up +7.8% over last year. Growth was particularly strong in the fourth quarter of 2007 (+15.4% year on year) and concludes a year of progressively accelerating growth.
This growth results from a combination of strong demand for hydrogen, new start-ups in Large Industries in the second half of the year, record sales in Electronics, continued growth in liquid volumes for our industrial customers, and sustained development in Healthcare.
In 2007, the Group met all of its operating and financial objectives.
The OPAL efficiency and productivity program, initiated in 2005, was successfully completed in 2007 generating savings of €400 million in line with target. The recurring operating margin for Gas and Services increased significantly to 18.1%.
The net profit for the Group increased by +12.1% to €1,123 million.
Cash flow increased by +8.7%. Total capital expenditure doubled compared with 2006, reaching €2.7 billion, supporting our growth over the coming years.
On this basis, the Board of Directors has recommended a one for ten bonus share issue, effective June 9, 2008, subject to approval at the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. They will also propose to the Annual General Meeting the payment of a dividend of €2.25 per share, an increase of +12.5% over 2006. The dividend will be paid on May 19, 2008.
Commenting on the 2007 results, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide group, stated:
“Air Liquide achieved an excellent set of results in 2007. This is another year of progress, clearly illustrating the Group’s ability to combine accelerated growth and strong financial performance.
This progress is based on strong geographic presence, particularly in emerging economies, the consolidation of our positions in growth markets such as hydrogen and homecare, and the strengthening of our technology portfolio in the energy and environmental markets which require large volumes of oxygen.
Our ambition is to be recognized as the industry leader. The ALMA program which has just been launched, will allow us to accelerate growth and further improve our competitive position in the years to come.
We enter the year with most of our markets well oriented, which gives us confidence in Air Liquide’s ability, at constant exchange rates, to achieve double-digit growth in net profit in 2008.”