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Praxair, Inc. (NYSE:PX) reported first-quarter net income and diluted earnings per share of $448 million and $1.51, 8% and 9% above the prior-year quarter, respectively.*
Sales in the first quarter were $3,026 million, 5% above the prior-year quarter, and up 9%, excluding foreign currency. Organic sales grew 6% driven by higher on-site volumes from new project start-ups primarily in North America and Asia. By end-market, sales growth was strongest for energy, chemicals, and food and beverage customers, as compared to the prior-year quarter. Acquisitions contributed 2% growth in the quarter.
Operating profit in the first quarter was $675 million, 8% above the prior-year quarter. Excluding negative currency translation impacts, operating profit rose 12% driven by higher volumes, higher pricing, acquisitions and productivity gains. Operating profit as a percentage of sales was a strong 22.3% and the EBITDA margin grew to 32.0%.*
First-quarter cash flow from operations was $536 million and capital expenditures were $393 million, primarily for new production plants under long-term contracts with customers. Acquisition expenditures were $124 million, related primarily to Italian industrial gas and U.S. packaged gas businesses.
The company paid dividends of $191 million and repurchased $237 million of stock, net of issuances. During the quarter, the company issued €600 million of 6-year notes with a 1.5% coupon. The after-tax return-on-capital and return on equity for the quarter were 12.6% and 28.7%, respectively.*
Commenting on the financial results and business outlook, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel said, “Praxair delivered solid results in the first quarter with sales growth of 9% and operating profit growth of 12%, excluding the impact of currency headwinds. Organic growth of 6% reflected contributions from new projects in North America and Asia, as well as modest volume growth in our South America, Europe and Surface Technologies operating segments. Praxair’s relentless focus on achieving productivity benefits and higher price to offset cost inflation produced strong operating leverage and an operating margin of 22.3%.