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Sales growth was driven by higher volumes and prices, partially offset by negative currency translation.
For the full year of 2011, sales were $11.3 billion, a year-over-year increase of 11 percent, due primarily to higher volumes and prices. Profit grew 40 percent to $1.7 billion.
In North America, fourth-quarter sales were $1.4 billion, up 7 percent from the prior-year quarter. Underlying sales grew 10 percent from higher volumes and prices, largely attributable to growth in the manufacturing, energy, chemicals and metals markets. Operating profit of $364 million grew 17 percent from the prior year due to higher volumes, price and cost savings.
In Europe, fourth-quarter sales were $380 million. Sales were 12 percent above the prior year due primarily to the acquisition of increased ownership of Yara Praxair in Scandinavia, partially offset by lower volume. Operating profit was $61 million in the quarter, compared to $68 million in the prior year primarily due to lower volumes. During the quarter actions were taken to reduce costs, including severance and facility consolidation.
In South America, fourth-quarter sales were $532 million. Sales grew 8 percent from the prior-year quarter, excluding a 5 percent negative currency impact, due primarily to higher price and volumes. Operating profit was $118 million as compared to $114 million in the prior-year period due primarily to cost reduction programs and price.
Sales in Asia were $325 million in the quarter, up 6 percent from the prior year, driven by volume growth in India, China and Korea including new plant start-ups. Sales growth came primarily from metals and chemicals customers. Operating profit was $52 million, as compared to $50 million in the prior-year, due primarily to higher volumes, partially offset by cost inflation and lower volumes in Thailand due to the floods.
Praxair Surface Technologies had fourth-quarter sales of $160 million, up 7 percent, compared to $150 million in the prior-year quarter. Sales growth came from the energy market from higher coatings of parts used in oil and gas exploration and from higher volumes of aviation coatings. Operating profit increased to $24 million from $20 million in the quarter due to volume growth. During the quarter actions were taken to reduce costs in Europe, including severance and facility consolidation.