Air Products sees rise in quarterly net

US producer and supplier of industrial gases used in industrial applications Air Products and Chemicals announced on 23 April that net income rose by more than a third in the fiscal second quarter par…

US producer and supplier of industrial gases used in industrial applications Air Products and Chemicals announced on 23 April that net income rose by more than a third in the fiscal second quarter partly because of the sale of its US packaged gas business. Net income rose 33% to US$ 126 million, or 57 cents a share for the second quarter ended 31 March, comparing to a profit of US$ 95 million, or 43 cents a share. The higher profits were helped by the after-tax gain of US$ 25.7 million on the sale of most of its US packaged gas business for US$ 254.5 million. Net income also includes an after-tax charge of US$ 18.9 million for the Trexlertown company“s global cost reduction plan. Excluding special items in the fiscal 2002 and 2001 second quarters, net income from ongoing operations of US$ 119 million, or 54 cents a share, remained pretty much unchanged. Sales dropped 14% to US$ 1.3 billion. As part of the global cost reduction plan, the company intends to eliminate 333 jobs, less than 2% of its worldwide work force of 18,000 employees. About 50 of those cuts are a result of the sale of its US packaged gas business that was completed at the end of February. About two-thirds of the remaining 283 jobs are in the US, with the rest in Europe. The cuts include positions in gases, chemicals and equipment. Company officials could not specify how many of the affected jobs are in the Lehigh Valley. The company has 4,300 local workers. The company will also close or sell two small chemical facilities located outside Pennsylvania, which employ 20 people. Cost reductions announced by Air Products in the second fiscal quarter are small compared to what other companies in the industry are doing, said David Kerans, analyst for Argus Research in New York City. Air Products also announced that John Owings, 52, was named chief financial officer, effective 20 May. He is replacing Leo Daley, 55, who is retiring after 23 years with the company. Owings recently served as senior vice president and director of finance for Motorola“s personal communications sector.