Specialty gas distributor Airgas ( ARG) said its earnings rose 30.4% for the first quarter, led by higher sales. The company earned $38.7 million, or 48 cents a share, compared with $29.7 million, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 44 cents a share. First-quarter revenue rose 14% from a year ago to $773 million as against analysts' expectation of $773.1 million. Same-store sales grew 9%. The company expects earnings of 45 cents to 47 cents a share for the second quarter and $1.85 to $1.92 a share for the full-year. Analysts are expecting earnings of 47 cents a share for the second quarter and $1.86 a share for the full-year. "Our solid same-store sales results show the sustained momentum we are generating through our core business and strategic product initiatives," the company said. "Acquisitions contributed nicely to our sales growth this quarter, and we expect to complete some significant acquisitions in the near future as well."