Praxair, Inc., Danbury, CT, reported sales of $2.1 billion for the first quarter of 2009, 20% below first quarter 2008 sales. Profit declined 5.5% to $290 million.
Demand appears to have stabilized, but at a lower level, with overall volumes down 12% versus the prior year. However, we have not yet seen meaningful signs of recovery and we are therefore cautious regarding our outlook for the remainder of the year, said CEO Steve Angel.
Based on the current macroeconomic environment, Praxair expects sales for the full year of 2009 to be in the area of $9 billion. Full-year capital expenditures are expected to be in the area of $1.4 billion, supporting the construction of 42 on-site production plants under contract which will come on-stream in 2009 through 2011.
In North America, first-quarter sales were $1.5 billion, 20% below the first quarter of 2008. Higher sales to energy markets were offset by sharply lower volumes to chemicals, metals, electronics and manufacturing markets.
In Europe, sales in the first quarter were $303 million, 22% below the prior year. The translation effects of a weaker euro reduced sales by 9%. Underlying sales were down primarily due to lower volumes in the chemicals, metals and electronics end-markets.
In South America, first-quarter sales were $353 million, down 24%. Underlying sales were slightly below the prior year as lower volumes to metals and manufacturing customers were largely offset by growth in food and beverage and healthcare.
Sales in Asia were $180 million in the quarter, a decline 15% from the prior year. Excluding currency translation and cost pass-though, sales declined 8%. Sales and earnings growth from project start-ups in China, India, and Korea was more than offset by the sharp decline in sales to electronics customers.
Praxair Surface Technologies first-quarter sales declined 13.4% to $123 million. Excluding the negative impact of currency translation, sales were 7% below the prior year. Sales growth in energy markets was offset by lower sales to aviation and general manufacturing.