August 5, 2019 / 10:57 AM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Linde ups 2019 outlook despite weaker economic conditions

Aug 5 (Reuters) - Linde plc , world's largest industrial gases group, beat forecasts with its second-quarter results and raised its full-year outlook for the second time this year, despite challenging business conditions and economic uncertainties.

The supplier of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to factories and hospitals said on Monday it now expected its adjusted pro forma earnings per share to grow between 12% and 16% in 2019 to $6.95-$7.18, up from its previous outlook for an increase of 9% to 13%.

The company reported adjusted pro forma operating profit rose 6% from a year ago to $1.32 billion, helped by volumes and price increases over the quarter, while pro forma sales were steady at $7.18 billion.

The analysts polled by Refinitiv expected on average an operating profit of $1.29 billion with sales of $7.15 billion.

Adjusted pro forma EPS of $1.83 also beat expectations of $1.73 per share.

German-listed Linde shares were 2.5% up at 1030 GMT ahead of U.S. market open against the backdrop of a broad sell-off in stock markets buffeted by worries about the damage to the global economy from an escalating trade spat between Washington and Beijing.

Excluding the expected 3% negative currency impact over the full-year, Linde's adjusted pro forma EPS is seen growing 15% to 19% year-on-year. It also said its project backlog increased over the quarter to record highs of $4.7 billion.

Linde said it expected second-half economic environment to weaken compared to the second-quarter, but saw price increases and "cost actions" offseting any volume softness. Linde spokesman would not comment on where the group could increase prices this year.

Linde plc, formed last year by the merger of Linde AG of Germany and Praxair of the United States, noted "continued progress on synergies" from creating the combined company in an analyst presentation.

Last May, Linde's CEO Steve Angel projected about $225 million of cost synergies in 2019, with about 70% of those realized during the second half of the year.

Reporting by Piotr Lipinski in Gdynia Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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