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"Business conditions stabilized globally during the quarter. Our base business volumes improved from the second quarter in all our geographic regions," CEO Steve Angel said. "The strongest pick-up was in Asia and South America, where government stimulus programs have increased domestic demand and industrial production. To a lesser extent, volumes in North America and Europe also improved from the 2009 second quarter, due primarily to increased production by our metals, chemicals and electronics customers. Overall demand from general manufacturing markets in these regions remains relatively weak and has yet to show meaningful signs of recovery."
Year to date, sales were $6.55 billion, down 22% from the prior year period. Profit declined 9.6% to $914 million. For the full year of 2009, Praxair expects sales to be about $9 billion.
In North America, third-quarter sales were $1.16 billion, 25% below the third quarter of 2008. Excluding the negative effect of currency and cost pass-through, underlying sales declined 12% due to lower volumes, partially offset by higher overall pricing. Compared to the second quarter of 2009, sales grew 4% primarily due to higher volumes to chemicals and steel customers.
In Europe, third-quarter sales were $323 million, 16% below the prior year. Excluding currency effects, sales were 8% below the prior year due to lower volumes in manufacturing and metals markets.
In South America, third-quarter sales were $436 million, 17% below the prior-year period. Excluding currency effects, sales were 6% below the prior-year quarter.
Sales in Asia were $232 million in the quarter, 3% below the third quarter of 2008. Excluding currency translation effects, underlying sales grew 3% from the prior-year quarter and 15% from the second quarter of 2009. Sales growth in the region came from higher on-site and liquid volumes in China, India, and Korea and was broad-based across most industrial end markets.
Praxair Surface Technologies had third-quarter sales of $135 million versus $145 million in the prior-year quarter. Excluding currency effects and the sales contribution from the Sermatech acquisition, sales were 17% below the prior-year quarter.