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In The News:

Airgas Sales Grow 9.5% in Third Quarter

Airgas Inc. (NYSE: ARG), Radnor, PA, No. 4 on MDM's list of the top 40 industrial distributors, distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related supplies, reported sales for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2010, were $1.03 billion, up 9.5 percent over the prior year.

Profit was $55.8 million for the third quarter.

Same-store sales were up 9 percent in the quarter, with hardgoods up 11 percent and gas and rent up 7 percent.

"We are seeing improvement across the country, with robust results in our Great Lakes, Mid South, and Southwest regions," said Airgas CEO Peter McCausland. "Growth is now accelerating in our core business on strength in our manufacturing, utilities and petrochemical customer segments, as well as in repair and maintenance activity, particularly at our larger customers. Although we have yet to see meaningful recovery in energy and infrastructure construction, the outlook is improving and our rental welder business is poised to return to positive same-store sales growth in our fourth quarter."

McCausland said the distributor will continue to do acquisitions.

"Our acquisition pipeline is improving as the economy recovers. We recently acquired three businesses with annual revenues of $14 million, including Conley Gas, a supplier of pure gases to the specialty gas industry," McCausland said. "Since the beginning of our fiscal year in April, we have acquired seven businesses with $20 million in annual revenues, and we anticipate a more robust acquisition environment in the coming quarters."

Year-to-date, sales were $3.14 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the prior-year period. Profit was $187.2 million.

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