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For the fourth quarter, sales were $2.62 billion, up 9 percent from the prior year quarter. Profit was $133 million, compared to year-ago profit of $340 million.
Sales in the fourth quarter increased across all geographic regions due primarily to electronics, manufacturing, energy and metals markets. Sales rose 3 percent sequentially from the third quarter due to higher volumes and positive currency effects.
"Our global business turned in a strong performance in 2010," CEO Steve Angel said. "We achieved record operating profit by leveraging the strong recovery in volumes and new plant start-ups along with ongoing productivity and cost reduction. We continued to invest in capital projects for future growth and established a presence in two growing geographies, Russia and the Middle East."
In North America, fourth-quarter sales were $1.31 billion, up 11 percent from the prior-year quarter. Volumes were 9 percent above the prior year largely attributable to higher sales to electronics, chemicals, energy and manufacturing markets. Operating profit of $311 million grew 19 percent.
In Europe, fourth-quarter sales were $339 million. Excluding negative currency effects, sales were 6 percent above the prior year due primarily to higher volumes. Operating profit was $68 million in the quarter, compared to $76 million in the prior-year.
In South America, fourth-quarter sales were $516 million. Sales were 12 percent above the prior-year quarter primarily due to higher volumes and higher price. Operating profit was $114 million as compared to $111 million in the prior-year period.
Sales in Asia were $308 million in the quarter up 12 percent from the prior-year quarter driven by strong growth in China, India, and Korea. Sales growth came from metals, manufacturing, electronics and chemical customers. Operating profit was $50 million, up 19 percent.
Praxair Surface Technologies had fourth-quarter sales of $150 million compared to $141 million in the prior-year quarter. Sales growth came from higher jet engine and industrial coatings volumes. Operating profit was $20 million in the quarter versus $22 million in the prior-year period.