* Variation Q1 2017/Q1 2016 on a comparable basis, excluding currency and energy (natural gas and electricity) impact: 2016 base adjusted as if on January 1, 2016 a) Airgas had been consolidated and the divestments requested by the US regulator (FTC) had been completed and b) Aqua Lung and Air Liquide Welding had been deconsolidated (discontinued operations as per IFRS 5).
Commenting on the first quarter of 2017, Benoît Potier, Air Liquide Chairman and CEO, said:
“The strong growth in sales this quarter reflects the Group's new scale as a result of the acquisition of Airgas. The increase in sales was also the result of a significant improvement in Industrial Merchant, the Group's largest business line, the solid growth in Healthcare and to a lesser extent in Large Industries, as well as the strength of the Global Markets & Technologies business.
In a more favorable economic context, the signs of improvement observed at the beginning of the year were confirmed during the first quarter. In fact, all geographies posted growth, notably North America with a recovery in its industrial production.
Moreover, the Group continues to deliver recurrent efficiency gains, to which are added the Airgas synergies thanks to the successful first steps of the integration, in line with our expectations. We also posted a sharp increase in cash flow.
Air Liquide is thus on track in the implementation of its company program for the period 2016-2020.
Assuming a comparable environment, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to deliver net profit growth in 2017”.
Q1 2017 Group revenue reached € 5,176 million, an increase of +38.5% on a reported basis as compared with Q1 2016. This includes the consolidation of Airgas sales. Q1 2017 revenue benefited also, to a lesser extent, from the positive impact of both currency (+2.4%) and energy (+2.7%). On a comparable basis1, Q1 2017 Group revenue rose +1.5% versus Q1 2016, impacted by weaker sales in Engineering and Construction.
Gas & Services revenue, which totaled € 5,046 million this quarter, is up +42.2% on a reported basis versus Q1 2016. On a comparable basis, revenue grew +2.8% this quarter versus Q1 2016, and therefore much improved over the two previous quarters.
Revenue for all Gas & Services businesses rose this quarter on a comparable basis, with the exception of Electronics, which was virtually unchanged:
Engineering and Construction revenue, which came to € 52.7 million, declined sharply (-58.4%) on a comparable basis versus Q1 2016, adversely impacted by a decline in order intake in 2016. However, order intake showed improvement this quarter, as compared with Q1 2016, and higher bidding activity.
For Global Markets & Technologies, revenue for the period was € 77.4 million, up +19.2% on a comparable basis. Growth was driven by the biogas sector as well as sales of hydrogen charging stations for mobility, helium sales, and maritime.
This quarter, the Group generated recurrent efficiency gains of € 67 million, which is 10% more than during Q1 2016. The Airgas synergies, which amounted to 45 million USD this quarter, are materializing rapidly, in line with our expectations.
Cash flow from operating activities before change in Working Capital Requirements increased markedly and amounted to € 920 million. The net debt-to-equity ratio continued to decrease.
1 Variation Q1 2017/Q1 2016 on a comparable basis, excluding currency and energy (natural gas and electricity) impact: 2016 base adjusted as if on January 1, 2016 a) Airgas had been consolidated and the divestments requested by the US regulator (FTC) had been completed and b) Aqua Lung and Air Liquide Welding had been deconsolidated (discontinued operations as per IFRS 5).
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