* Variation Q1 14/Q1 13 on a comparable basis: adjusted for currency, natural gas and significant M&A impacts
Commenting on the first quarter of 2014, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, stated:
“This quarter confirms the return to a more favorable economic climate that started in the course of 2013. This environment is notably favorable for Electronics, a business that continues to develop in segments with higher added value.
The first quarter of 2014 was marked by stronger growth and by a significant contribution from start-ups as well as by higher demand from our customers. We saw sustained growth in our activities in the Americas and Asia-Pacific as well as stability in Europe.
Our operational performance is solid and the Group continues to reinforce its efficiency and its competitiveness, while undertaking growth initiatives.
The investment backlog of € 2.5 billion represents an important source of growth over the medium term.
In this context, and barring a degradation of the environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver another year of net profit growth in 2014.”
Group revenue for the 1st quarter of 2014 reached € 3,734 million, an increase of +6.2% on a comparable growth basis, and of +1.0% on a reported basis. Sales in Gas & Services, up by +5.7% on a comparable basis, were stable (+0.3%) as published. The currency effect, which has no operational impact, was once again unfavorable this quarter. Revenue from Gas & Services for Industry in developing economies rose by +14% on a comparable basis.
All Gas & Services business lines reported growth.
Large Industries, where quarterly revenue rose by +6.2% on a comparable basis, benefited from the start-up of new units, notably in China, and from sustained demand for hydrogen from the refining industry in the United States. Industrial Merchant continued to improve in the 1st quarter of 2014, reaching +4.4% on a comparable basis. This activity is benefiting from higher volumes in Asia, including Japan, and in the Americas, as well as from higher sales of helium and rare gases. The recovery in Electronics that began in 2013 has continued, resulting in quarterly growth of +10.3% on a comparable basis, driven by increased sales of equipment and installations in the United States and in Asia, as well as by higher demand for specialty gases.
Healthcare remains robust, particularly in home healthcare and hygiene, and progresses by +5.3% on a comparable basis. This activity continues to be a driver of growth in Western Europe and to develop in South America, particularly in Brazil.
Engineering and Technologies increased by +19.4% as published, sustained by sales of production units to third-party customers.
Operational indicators for the quarter were in line with expectations. Efficiency gains reached € 69 million and operational cash flow increased by a solid +9%, excluding the currency impact.