On 30 June 2003, Air Liquide delivered an improvement of +1.2% (+6.8% in constant currencies) in net earnings to reach 328.2 million euros, and of +1.8% (+7.6% in constant currencies) in earnings per share to reach 3.33 euros.Cash flow over the period amounted to 761.0 million euros (+7.6% at constant currencies).
Commenting on first half earnings for 2003, Benoît Potier, Chairman of Air Liquides Management Board, said:
Despite a still hesitant economic environment, Air Liquide continued to make progress in all of its businesses during the first six months. Volumes increased in hydrogen and syngas for refining and chemicals, the semiconductor market performed well and Asia and Europe saw good levels of demand. In Japan, the integration of Japan Air Gases (JAG) is well in line with targets, while acquisitions in gas and services are enhancing growth in countries where we are present.
This steady performance is the result of strategic decisions made in our core businesses and significant efforts made throughout the company, enabling us to maintain the healthy margin levels achieved in 2002 and to continue to increase earnings despite unfavorable exchange rates.
Furthermore, cash flow generated over the period remained strong, reflecting the solidity of our businesses, whilst allowing us to fund dividends and maintain capital expenditure to nurture growth, with net debt kept at the low level achieved in 2002.
During the second half of the year, with the same business trends, we should continue to deliver growth in sales and improve our efficiency, enabling us, despite probable unfavorable currency effects, to report increased net earnings for the full year.