* Q1 oper profit 953 mln euros vs Rtrs poll avg 921 mln
* Operating margin widens to 23.9 pct from 23.4 pct
* Confirms 2013, 2016 outlook
* Shares indicated 2.7 percent higher
FRANKFURT, May 6 Germany's Linde, the
world's No. 2 industrial gases producer, reported a
better-than-expected 12.6 percent gain in quarterly operating
profit, boosted by last year's acquisition of U.S.-based
Operating profit for first quarter through March was 953
million euros ($1.25 billion), Linde said on Monday, exceeding
an average analyst estimate of 921 million euros in a Reuters
Lincare, a provider of oxygen and respiratory therapy
services to patients in the home, contributed 397 million euros
of Linde's first-quarter sales of 3.99 billion euros.
Shares of Linde were indicated to open 2.7 percent higher,
making them the biggest gainer on Germany's blue-chip DAX index
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's main gases business grew compared with its smaller
and less profitable engineering business, helping to lift the
group operating profit margin to 23.9 percent from 23.4 percent.
Linde said it was still aiming for an increase in sales this
year and operating profit of at least 4 billion euros thanks to
the expected earnings contribution from Lincare.
It echoed recent upbeat comments by rivals, such as France's
Air Liquide and U.S.-based Praxair Inc, which
are banking on robust demand for industrial gases over the
Analysts on average see Linde's 2013 operating profit at
3.99 billion and revenue rising to 17.05 billion euros from
15.83 billion in sales last year. Linde also said it still sees
operating profit rising to at least 5 billion euros in 2016.