* Adj fiscal Q3 EPS 80 cents vs. Street 79 cents
* Revenue up 9.5 percent to $1.03 billion
* Forecasts adj fiscal Q4 EPS growth 19 to 25 pct
* Airgas raises dividend 16 percent to 29 cents
* Shares rise 0.7 percent
(Rewrites, adds dividend, forecast, bulletpoints, byline)
By Ernest Scheyder
NEW YORK, Jan 21 Industrial gas supplier Airgas
Inc ARG.N, which is fending off a hostile takeover by rival
Air Products and Chemicals Inc (APD.N), posted a
higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday and boosted its
Net income for the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31 rose
to $55.8 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with $46.9
million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.
Excluding one-time items, mostly involving costs related to
its defense against Air Products, the company earned 80 cents
per share. By that measure, analysts had expected earnings of
79 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Growth is now accelerating in our core business on
strength in our manufacturing, utilities and petrochemical
customer segments, as well as in repair and maintenance
activity, particularly at our larger customers," Airgas Chief
Executive and founder Peter McCausland said in a statement.
Sales rose 9.5 percent to $1.03 billion, matching analysts'
Airgas, based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, also boosted its
quarterly dividend to 29 cents from 25 cents. The dividend is
payable on March 31 to shareholders of record as of March 15.
Shares of Airgas rose 0.7 percent to $63.98 in premarket
trading. The stock has traded between $41.82 and $71.28 in the
past 52 weeks.
Air Products also posted better-than-expected earnings on
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, editing by Gerald E. McCormick,
editing by Dave Zimmerman)