6309 Monarch Park Place, Suite 203
Niwot, CO 80503, USA
Phone (303) 443-5060
Toll free (888) 742-5060
Net earnings for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2002, excluding certain restructuring and divestiture charges, were $0.49 per diluted share compared to prior year results of $0.41 per diluted share, on a pro forma basis. Results for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2001 exclude a charge for the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle related to the accounting for goodwill. Free cash flow per diluted share for the six-month period was $0.62 versus $0.40 in the prior year, driving debt reduction of $40 million.
Including the charges related to the restructuring and divestitures, the reported net earnings per diluted share for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2002 were $0.46 versus $0.41 for the comparable prior year period, on a pro-forma basis. For the six months ended Sept. 30, 2001, including the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle, the Company reported a net loss of $0.45 per diluted share.
'Our ability to grow earnings per share by 29% and generate strong cash flow in the quarter demonstrates the resiliency of our gas business, even during difficult economic times,' said Airgas Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland. 'Our underlying business, reinforced by the Air Products packaged gas acquisition, remains on track. We also benefited from much lower than projected financing costs for the acquisition. We are improving gross margins, in part, due to a stronger gas and rent sales mix, and we remain diligent about controlling costs. I am also pleased to report that we continue executing well against our financial goals, increasing operating margin by almost 100 basis points to 9.4%.'
McCausland continued, 'We believe that we are still on track to achieve earnings per share of $0.92 to $0.94 for the full year, although the environment is tougher than expected. We remain focused on our strategic initiatives designed to improve our low-cost position and grow market share, as these will help drive shareholder value until we see sustained signs of improvement in the industrial economy.'
While the acquisition helped increase second quarter sales 9% to $451 million, total same-store sales declined 3% compared to the same quarter a year ago, reflecting continued weakness in manufacturing and other industrial customer segments. Same-store sales in the Distribution segment were down 3%, reflecting slight growth for gases and rent and a 7% decline in hardgoods. Same-store sales for the Gas Operations segment increased 2%. Year-to-date capital spending was $34 million versus $28 million last year.
Free cash flow is defined as after-tax cash flow (net earnings, excluding certain gains and charges, plus depreciation, amortization and deferred income taxes), minus capital spending, plus/minus the change in working capital, excluding the impact of the accounts receivable securitization and certain gains and charges.