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In The News:

Airgas Second Quarter Sales Increase 10%

Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG), reported sales for the second quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010, were $1.06 billion, an increase of 10 percent over the same period a year ago. Sequentially, second-quarter sales were up 1 percent over first quarter. Profit increased 22.2 percent to $66.6 million.

Compared to the prior year, total same-store sales increased 9 percent in the quarter, with hardgoods up 12 percent and gas and rent up 7 percent. Acquisitions contributed 1 percent sales growth over the prior year.

For the first six months, sales were $2.11 billion, up 8.2 percent over the prior year same period. Profit increased 20.1 percent to $131.4 million.

"Our business continued to strengthen in our second quarter, reflecting broad-based improvement in most of our geographies and customer segments, and with the greatest strength in manufacturing," CEO Peter McCausland said. "Hardgoods same-store sales accelerated noticeably this quarter as compared to gas and rent same-store sales, which is a trend consistent with an economic recovery. While revenues have not yet recovered to pre-recession levels, we are experiencing favorable leverage on sales growth and are achieving near record results for earnings and margins."

Following the earnings announcement, the Airgas Board of Directors sent a letter to John McGlade, president and CEO of Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (NYSE: APD), Lehigh Valley, PA, reiterating the board's view that Air Products' offer of $65.50 per share for the distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases is "grossly inadequate."

The letter restated the board's willingness to authorize negotiations at a per share price "in excess of $70."

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