UPDATE 1-Linde profits buoyed by emerging markets

Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:07am EDT

* Q2 oper profit 847 mln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 846 mln

* Q2 sales 3.67 bln eur vs poll 3.66 bln

* Confirms FY outlook

* Ups medium-term oper profit outlook on Lincare purchase

* Shares up 0.6 percent

FRANKFURT, July 27 (Reuters) - Linde, the world No. 2 industrial gases producer, confirmed its full-year outlook for higher sales and earnings after quarterly operating profit rose in line with consensus thanks to emerging market demand.

The Munich-based company said on Friday it still sees 2012 revenue and operating profit increasing from a year earlier thanks to a full pipeline of on-site projects and acquisitions for its homecare business, which provides medical gases to hospitals.

The upbeat outlook contrasts with recent cautious comments by U.S. rivals Praxair, Air Products and Chemicals Inc and Airgas, all three of which have all trimmed their full-year targets on weakness in the Asian and European markets.

Linde still posts its highest growth rates in Asia, benefiting especially from demand in China. Revenue at its Asia-Pacific gases business rose 13 percent in the second quarter, helping to push group sales up 5.9 percent to 3.67 billion euros ($4.51 billion), a touch above consensus.

Quarterly adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 6.2 percent to 847 million euros, bang in line with market estimates.

Linde also revised upward its medium-term profit target, citing its acquisition of U.S.-based Lincare, saying it now expected to post 4 billion euros of annual operating profit in 2013, one year earlier than previously forecast.

But it also said it now expects to reach its 14 percent target for return on capital employed in 2015, a year later than planned.

Linde announced plans earlier this month to buy Lincare, a provider of oxygen and respiratory therapy services to patients in the home, in a $4.6 billion deal.

The bulk of Linde's customers are in the steel-making, oil refining and semiconductors industries but its gases are also used to help asthma patients breathe more easily and lift the balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Linde trades at 14.1 times its estimated 12-month forward earnings, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights analysts' estimates according to their track record.

That is a discount to French rival Air Liquide and U.S.-based Praxair, which trade at multiples of 16.5 and 16.6, respectively, but a premium to Air Products' 13.1.

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