Linde AG (LIN) predicted an increase in earnings and sales this year after demand in Asia and liquid- and cylinder-gas orders helped the world’s second-biggest maker of industrial gases report higher-than-expected profit.
Operating profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 8.6 percent to 847 million euros ($1.12 billion) in the fourth quarter, the Munich-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had predicted 808.3 million euros, according to a Bloomberg survey. Linde will propose an annual dividend of 2.5 euros a share, it said today.
Linde’s forecast echoes that of larger rival Air Liquide SA (AI), which last month predicted higher annual profit as it boosts investment in China, Russia and the Middle East. Linde Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Reitzle is accelerating growth with the acquisition of Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD)’s home care business, which it’s buying for $752 million.
“The group believes that global megatrends, energy and the environment, health and healthcare and the emerging economies will provide good opportunities so that it will be able to continue to achieve sustainable, profitable growth,” the company said in the statement.
Quarterly sales rose 3.3 percent to 3.58 billion euros, missing a 3.60 billion-euro estimate. Net income gained 3.6 percent to 318 million euros, beating the 289.1 million-euro estimate of the Bloomberg survey.
Linde is sticking to a goal to cut costs by as much as 800 million euros by 2012 as it buys more goods in low-cost countries and reduces the number of gas-production plants it offers. The company also reiterated a target for operating profit of at least 4 billion euros in 2014, it said today.
Linde’s purchase of the home-care business, which supplies oxygen to patients, will almost double the German company’s sales from this product area, positioning it among Europe’s top suppliers of home-care respiratory products, Linde said in January.
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