Air Products third-quarter profits slip, but meet estimates

Air Products and Chemicals Inc., an industrial gas and chemicals company, said on 20 July that fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 5%, because of slowing economy and energy costs, a combination it warn…

Air Products and Chemicals Inc., an industrial gas and chemicals company, said on 20 July that fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 5%, because of slowing economy and energy costs, a combination it warned would diminish full-year profits as well. Air Products, based in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, US, said earnings for the period, ended June 30, fell to US$ 132 million, or 60 cents a diluted share, within the range of analyst estimates. In the same period in 2000 it earned US$ 139 million, or 64 cents a share. Analysts expected the company to earn of 58 cents to 62 cents a share, with a consensus estimate of 60 cents a share, according to market research firm Thomson Financial/First Call. Revenues rose 1% to US$ 1.4 billion in the quarter, during which chairman and chief executive John Jones said the company faced challenges on “multiple fronts”. And while Jones said the company expects to see better sales volumes in its chemicals business in the months ahead, “the continuing decline in US manufacturing, which has become particularly acute in the electronics sector, will continue to create challenges for our businesses.” As a result, the company said it expects earnings per share for fiscal 2001 of about US$ 2.30, or 10 cents a share less than the current consensus estimate on Wall Street. “Faced with these challenges, we will continue to focus on improving our cost structure and refining our strategies, ensuring Air Products“ ability to capitalize on growth opportunities once the economy improves,” Jones said. Air Products shares closed at US$ 47.99 on July on the New York Stock Exchange, after rising more than 19% in the quarter ended June 30. During the period it outperformed the S&P Chemical index, which rose about 12% on expectations that the industry may finally start to recover.