Praxair Third-Quarter 2007 EPS Increases 25% To 94 Cents
Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX) announced record third-quarter sales and earnings. Net income grew 23% to $305 million, and diluted earnings per share grew 25% to 94 cents.
Sales in the third quarter were $2,372 million, 13% above the prior year. Sales grew in all geographies, led by strong growth in Asia and South America from new business and project start-ups, and continued stable growth in North America.
Third-quarter operating profit grew to $460 million from $392 million in the prior-year quarter as a result of new business, improved pricing and operational efficiencies. This represented underlying growth of 22%, excluding the gains from business divestitures in the 2006 quarter.
In North America, third-quarter sales reached $1,306 million, 10% above the prior year. Growth came primarily from higher sales to energy and general manufacturing markets. Operating profit of $244 million rose 20% from the third quarter of 2006, reflecting strong operating leverage from new business development.
In Europe, third-quarter sales of $325 million increased 11%, and 4% excluding currency effects, versus the prior year. Underlying sales growth came from all major regions and end-markets. Operating profit rose to $78 million, representing 22% growth from the prior year, excluding a gain from a business divestiture in the 2006 quarter.
In South America, third-quarter sales of $419 million grew 23% from the prior-year quarter, and 13% excluding currency effects, from new business in manufacturing, metals, energy and healthcare markets. Operating profit of $84 million grew 22% as compared to the prior year.
Sales in Asia grew 15% to $190 million from $165 million in the year-ago quarter. Higher on-site and merchant gases sales in China, India and Korea drove the increase. Operating profit in the quarter rose to $30 million from $27 million in the prior year.
Praxair Surface Technologies’ sales in the quarter increased to $132 million, up 16% as compared to the prior-year quarter. Increasing demand for coatings sales to the aerospace and energy markets drove the sales growth. Operating profit rose to $24 million, reflecting significantly improved product mix.
Cash flow from operations in the quarter was a record $592 million. Capital expenditures were $360 million. During the quarter, the company purchased $385 million of common stock, net of issuances. The after-tax return-on-capital ratio* improved to 15.5% for the quarter and return on equity* increased to 25.1%.
Commenting on the results, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel said, “The pace of new business activity continues to be robust around the globe, reflecting infrastructure development in Asia and South America, and an abundance of projects in energy markets in the Americas. Our pipeline of future projects continues to grow, which provides visibility for double-digit sales growth over the next two to three years. We expect to achieve strong earnings leverage due to our focus on productivity, and to continue our share repurchase program using our strong and growing cash flow.”
For the fourth quarter of 2007, Praxair expects diluted earnings per share in the range of 95 cents to 97 cents, 16% to 18% above the fourth quarter of 2006.
For the full year of 2007, Praxair expects year-over-year sales growth of about 12%. The company expects diluted earnings per share to be in the area of $3.60, representing about 20% growth from 2006. Full-year capital expenditures are expected to be in the area of $1.3 billion.
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