Air Liquide’s Board of Directors, which met on February 14, 2011, adopted the 2010 financial statements which have been audited. A report with an unqualified opinion is in the process of being issued by the external Auditors.
2010 consolidated revenue amounts to € 13,488 million. The progressive recovery in Gas & Services, which increased +10.3% on a comparable basis, accelerated quarter-by-quarter in all regions, especially in the Developing economies (+29% on a comparable basis). Highlights of the year included strong growth in Large Industries, with a record number of start-ups and ramp-ups of new units; sustained performance in Industrial Merchant; confirmation of a rebound in Electronics; and solidity in Healthcare.
Net profit (Group share) posts an increase of +14.1%, above the Group’s historical performance, and the operating margin reached 16.7%, up +40 basis points compared to 2009, in part due to continued efficiency gains totaling € 280 million for the year.
Net debt stands at € 5,039 million, down by € 183 million, at constant exchange rates, leading to a gearing ratio of 55%. Return on capital employed increased to 12.1%.
Commenting on the 2010 results, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, stated:
“2010 highlights include the return to more sustained growth in all of our businesses and geographies, and stronger overall performance. The Group has expanded its positions in Developing economies, which represent 19% of Gas & Services sales for the year. This performance, together with our ongoing efficiency programs, led to further improvement in operating results and a strengthened balance sheet.
The recovery of the long-term investment cycle, as demonstrated by the signing of new contracts in all of our businesses, has led us to double the amount of our investment decisions compared to 2009, reaching € 2.2 billion. The new momentum is already established, spurred by the ALMA 2015 program, and supported by our five growth drivers (Energy, Environment, Developing economies, Health, High-Tech). This momentum will allow us to seize many growth opportunities and accelerate our long-term development.
In this context and assuming normal economic conditions, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to continue to generate steady growth of net profit in 2011.”
At the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, the Board of Directors of Air Liquide will propose the payment of a dividend of € 2.35 per share, an increase of +11.4%, taking into account the July 2010 free share attribution. The record date has been set for May 11, 2011 and the payment date for May 16, 2011.
The Board also approved the draft resolutions to be submitted at the Annual General Meeting, and in particular the renewal, for a period of four years, of the terms of office, as Directors, of Mr. Gérard de La Martinière and of Mr. Cornelis van Lede, and the appointment as director of Ms. Siân Herbert-Jones, of British nationality, a trained chartered accountant and the Chief Financial Officer of the Sodexo group since 2001. Mrs. Siân Herbert-Jones will bring her financial expertise to the Board and her knowledge of the Service sector acquired in an international listed company. Furthermore, the Board set the compensation for the Executive officers for 2011: details will be published on the Air Liquide website.