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Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX), Danbury, CT, reported sales for the first quarter of $2.9 billion, up 2 percent compared to the same period a year ago. On a comparable basis, sales grew 4 percent. Profit fell 7 percent to $391 million.
Acquisition expenditures during the quarter were $1.1 billion, related primarily to the acquisition of NuCO2.
“During the first quarter, Praxair saw varied growth rates across our geographic segments. Our Asia business grew sales at double-digit rates in China and Korea, due primarily to project start-ups," CEO Steve Angel said. "Sales in Brazil improved in March driven by manufacturing and construction. North American sales reflect solid underlying fundamentals with some deceleration of the growth rate."
Angel announced that Praxair will be starting up several hydrogen projects and air separation plants this year.
In North America, first-quarter sales were $1.5 billion, 4 percent above the prior-year quarter. Acquisitions of packaged gas distributors and NuCO2, a United States micro-bulk carbon dioxide provider, contributed 3 percent. Total sales growth was strongest to energy, manufacturing and food & beverage customers. Operating profit was $358 million.
In Europe, first-quarter sales were $370 million, down 2 percent versus the respective 2012 period. Sales were negatively impacted by lower industrial economic activity resulting in lower packaged gases volumes in Spain and Italy. Operating profit was $62 million in the quarter.
In South America, first-quarter sales were $531 million. Sales grew 3 percent from the prior-year quarter, excluding a 10 percent negative currency impact, primarily due to higher volumes and price. Operating profit was $114 million.
Sales in Asia were $367 million in the quarter, up 10 percent from the prior year driven by volume growth in India, China, Korea and Thailand. Sales growth came primarily from metals and chemicals customers. Operating profit was $63 million.
Praxair Surface Technologies had first-quarter sales of $163 million as compared to $169 million in the prior-year quarter. Sales decreased 4 percent, primarily from lower sales of industrial and military aviation coatings. Operating profit was $26 million.