Group operating profit* of EUR 2.385 bn 6.7 percent below prior-year figure
Improvement in Group operating margin to 21.3 percent (2008: 20.2 percent)
Group sales down 11.5 percent to EUR 11.211 bn
Operating cash flow up 14.2 percent to EUR 2.142 bn
Net financial debt reduced by over EUR 300 m to EUR 6.119 bn
Operating profit in the Gases Division of EUR 2.378 bn 1.6 percent below prior-year figure
Proposed dividend of EUR 1.80 per share unchanged from prior year
Munich, 4 March 2010 - The Executive Board of the technology group The Linde Group today presented the financial statements for Linde AG and the Group for the 2009 financial year and recommended their approval by the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board meeting will take place on 16 March 2010.
The most important performance indicators for the 2009 financial year, based on audited figures, demonstrate that Linde has been comparatively successful at cushioning the impact of the global financial and economic crisis.
"We have fared reasonably well in a difficult economic environment," said Professor Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG. "We were able to limit the decline in our sales and earnings while at the same time continuing to improve our productivity. Our gases business in particular proved very stable."
Group sales were EUR 11.211 bn, 11.5 percent down on the prior-year figure of EUR 12.663 bn. Group operating profit*, however, declined at a slower rate. Linde achieved Group operating profit of EUR 2.385 bn, only 6.7 percent below the prior-year figure. The Group operating margin rose as a result to 21.3 percent (2008: 20.2 percent).
Earnings before tax (EBT) were EUR 838 m, EUR 168 m below the prior-year figure of EUR 1.006 bn. After adjusting for restructuring costs of EUR 83 m and the profit on disposal of businesses of EUR 59 m achieved in 2008, the decline was only EUR 26 m or 2.7 percent.
Earnings after tax were EUR 653 m (2008: EUR 776 m). The amount attributable to Linde AG shareholders was EUR 591 m (2008: EUR 717 m). This corresponds to earnings per share of EUR 3.51 (2008: EUR 4.27). After adjusting for the effects of the purchase price allocation in the course of the BOC acquisition and the profits on disposal achieved in 2008, earnings per share stood at EUR 4.58 (2008: EUR 5.46). The restructuring costs recognised in 2009 have not been adjusted for here.
Operating cash flow continued the positive trends seen in the previous quarters. It increased significantly by 14.2 percent to EUR 2.142 bn (2008: EUR 1.876 bn).
At the same time, Linde succeeded in reducing its net financial debt by over EUR 300 m to EUR 6.119 bn (2008: EUR 6.423 bn).
In the Gases Division, sales in the 2009 financial year fell by 6.1 percent to EUR 8.932 bn. On a comparable basis, i.e. after adjusting for exchange rate effects, changes in the price of natural gas and changes to Group structure, the decline in sales was 5.1 percent. The division achieved an operating profit of EUR 2.378 bn, only 1.6 percent below the prior-year figure of EUR 2.417 bn. As a result, the operating margin in the Gases Division improved significantly by 120 basis points to 26.6 percent (2008: 25.4 percent).
In the Engineering Division, Linde achieved sales of EUR 2.311 bn, 23.4 percent below the prior-year figure of EUR 3.016 bn. Operating profit of EUR 210 m was 21.3 percent lower than the figure for 2008 of EUR 267 m. The operating margin was 9.1 percent, significantly exceeding Linde's target margin of 8 percent.
The Executive Board of Linde AG recommends to the Supervisory Board that it proposes a resolution at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 4 May 2010 to pay a dividend of EUR 1.80 per share, the same as in the prior year.
Detailed information about the 2009 financial year, the performance of the individual divisions and the short-term and medium-term prospects of the Group will be presented by Linde at its press conference on the annual results on 17 March 2010 in Munich.
The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 48,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2009 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 11.2 bn. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment - in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.
For more information, see The Linde Group online at http://www.linde.com
* Operating profit: EBITDA before non-recurring items, including the share of profit from associates and joint ventures.