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Radnor, PA - Airgas, Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and welding, safety and related products, today reported solid performance in earnings and cash flow, relative to the weak sales environment, for its fourth quarter ended March 31, 2009.
Airgas Reports 4Q Loss- 5/6/2009
"Most of our customer segments were under significant pressure this quarter, with manufacturing suffering the deepest declines," says Airgas Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland. "Given the difficult sales environment, we moved quickly to curtail costs and capital spending. As a result, our operating margin in the quarter held up relatively well, declining modestly to 11.5% from 12.1% last year."
Quarterly earnings declined 11% to $0.68 per diluted share, compared to $0.76 per diluted share in the prior year. Fourth quarter sales were $1.0 billion compared to $1.1 billion in the prior year, a decline of 9%. Total same-store sales declined 13% in the quarter, with hardgoods down 20% and gas and rent down 8%. Acquisitions contributed 4% sales growth in the quarter.
"The current environment puts a damper on what was a record year for Airgas in earnings and cash flow, but we're using this time to strengthen our operations so that we are well-positioned for growth when the economy begins to recover," says McCausland. "The fourth quarter trend of low sales volumes continued in April and with few signs of recovery in the near term, we are cautious in our outlook for fiscal 2010. The resilient nature of our business model, including our flexible cost structure and ability to generate strong free cash flow, should prove beneficial even if conditions deteriorate further."
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