Praxair, Inc., Danbury, CT, reported profit of $200 million for the fourth quarter 2008, down 36.7% over fourth quarter 2007. Sales declined 4.8% to $2.4 billion.
For the full year of 2008, profit was $1.2 billion, a 2.9% improvement over 2007. Year-end sales were up 14.8% to $10.8 billion, primarily from new business, new plant start-ups and higher pricing.
Commenting on the results and business outlook, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel said, As we anticipated, volumes dropped dramatically in November and December as our customers in the electronics, chemicals and metals industries cut production in the face of falling commodity prices and weakening demand, said CEO Steve Angel. "Our outlook for 2009 is cautious as we expect the global economy to remain weak."
In North America, fourth-quarter sales were $1.36 billion, 2% below $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. Strong overall pricing trends and higher sales to energy markets due to strong demand for hydrogen by refiners offset lower volumes in most other end markets, particularly metals, chemicals and electronics. For the full year, sales in North America grew 15%.
In Europe, sales in the fourth quarter were $322 million, 9% below the prior year. The translation effects of a weaker euro reduced sales by 6%. Underlying sales were comparable to the prior year as pricing gains were offset by lower volumes. For the year, sales in Europe were $1.5 billion, 12% above 2007.
In South America, fourth-quarter sales were $382 million, 14% below the prior year. Sales increased to customers in food and beverage, healthcare and general manufacturing markets, but overall growth in the region was mitigated by lower on-site volumes to commodity producers. For the full year, sales were $1.9 billion, 18% above 2007 due to strong organic growth and a 6% contribution from currency appreciation.
Sales in Asia were $209 million in the quarter, comparable to the prior year. For the year, sales in Asia were $891 million, 19% above 2007 from new plant start-ups and growth in merchant liquid sales.
Praxair Surface Technologies had fourth-quarter sales of $135 million, 4% above the prior-year quarter excluding currency impacts. For the full year, sales were $575 million, 10% above 2007.