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NEWS

Air Liquide tops profit forecast, hikes 2025 margin target

By Augustin Turpin and Olivier Cherfan

(Reuters) -French industrial gases firm Air Liquide on Tuesday posted a better-than-expected annual operating profit and said it had reached the previously announced 2025 margin target ahead of time.

The supplier of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to factories and hospitals said its recurring operating income rose 11.4% on a comparable basis to 5.07 billion euros ($5.46 billion) in 2023, above the 5.02 billion euros expected by analysts polled by Vara Research.

“We have practically reached, in two years, the margin ambition targeted for 2025 as part of our ADVANCE strategic plan,” CEO François Jackow said in a statement.

The company said it targets an additional 320 basis point increase in its margin over the duration of the plan, doubling its initial ambition.

Air Liquide had unveiled the strategic plan for 2022-2025 in March 2022, including a yearly sales growth target of 5% to 6% and a return on capital employed of more than 10% from 2023.

Revenue for the group’s gas and services segment, which accounts for 96% of its business, came in at 26.36 billion euros for the full year, a 4.2% increase on a comparable basis.

Industry bellwether Linde earlier this month forecast slower 2024 growth, flagging an “uncertain” geopolitical and macroeconomic environment.

($1 = 0.9430 euros)

(Reporting by Olivier Cherfan and Augustin Turpin; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Milla Nissi)

 

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