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Air Liquide 2018 Profit Down; Says Confident Of Net Profit Growth In 2019

Air Liquide SA (AIQUY.PK) reported that its net profit (Group share) amounted to 2.113 billion euros in 2018, down 3.9% as published, but up 4.2% compared with the "recurring" net profit for 2017 which excluded exceptional items and the impact of the US tax reform that had no impact on cash flow, and up 8.7% when also excluding the currency impact.

Net earnings per basic share, at 4.95 euros, were up 4.0% compared with the "recurring" net earnings per share for 2017, in line with the increase in net profit (Group share).

The Group's operating income recurring (OIR) reached 3.449 billion euros in 2018, up 6.7% excluding the currency impact. The operating margin (OIR to revenue) stood at 16.4% and at 16.6% excluding the energy impact, which corresponds to a +10 basis point improvement compared with 2017. Excluding the energy impact, the operating margin for Gas & Services increased by +30 basis points compared with 2017.

At the next Shareholders' Meeting, the Board of Directors will propose the payment of a dividend of 2.65 euros per share, stable compared to previous year. The ex-dividend date has been set for May 20, 2019, with payment set for May 22, 2019. In addition, the Board of Directors has decided to allot one free share for every 10 shares held in the second half of 2019. The allotment date is set for October 9, 2019.

At the close of the Shareholders' Meeting of May 7, 2019, assuming these resolutions are approved, the Board of Directors will be composed of 12 members, of whom 11 are elected and one is an employee director. The Board will be made up of seven men and five women and will include six members who are foreign nationals.

In addition, the company said its Board has set the remuneration of the executive officers, applicable to Mr. Benoît Potier as Chairman and CEO for 2018 and 2019.

Group revenue for 2018 stood at 21.011 billion euros, up 6.1% on a comparable basis and above the high end of the NEOS target range. It was supported by high Gas & Services sales growth, +5.2%, increasing sequentially, an improvement in Engineering & Construction (+31.5%) and strong growth in Global Markets & Technologies (+29.6%).

Air Liquide said it is confident in its ability to deliver net profit growth in 2019, calculated at constant exchange rate.

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