* Fourth-quarter adj. profit $1.55/share, in line with
* Sees first-quarter profit $1.48-$1.53/share vs est. $1.57
* Sees 2014 profit $6.25-$6.55/share vs est. $5.92
Jan 29 Praxair Inc, the largest
industrial gas supplier in the Americas, raised its dividend by
8 percent and set another $1.5 billion share buyback plan, after
its quarterly profit rose due to strong sales and acquisitions.
Praxair, however, forecast first-quarter earnings below
analysts' estimates, citing the impact of a strong U.S. dollar
as half of its revenue is generated outside North America.
The company's profit rose 15 percent in the fourth quarter
ended Dec. 31, helped by higher sales to energy, metals,
chemicals and manufacturing markets and increased prices.
Acquisition of NuCO2 Inc and some packaged gas distributors
also aided Praxair's quarterly results.
Weak demand for packaged gas - the sale of gases such as
carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium and acetylene in metal
cylinders to customers requiring small volumes - had weighed on
Praxair's results in recent quarters.
But the company is now benefiting from higher demand from
petroleum refining, chemicals and aerospace markets.
Smaller rival Air Products and Chemicals Inc, whose
quarterly sales were hurt by weak European demand for packaged
gas, also forecast a lower-than-expected profit for the current
quarter on Tuesday.
Praxair said it expected to earn $1.48-$1.53 per share in
the first quarter. Analysts were expecting $1.57 per share,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's 2014 earnings forecast of $6.25-$6.55 per
share was above the average analyst estimate of $5.92 per share.
Praxair forecast full-year revenue of $12.3 billion-$12.8
billion, slightly above analysts' expectations of $11.95
The company raised its quarterly dividend to 65 cents per
share from 60 cents per share.
Its new $1.5 billion share buyback plan is in addition to a
$1.5 billion repurchase program that is expected to be completed
Praxair's net income rose to $474 million, or $1.59 per
share, in the fourth quarter from $414 million, or $1.38 per
share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.55 per share, in line
with analysts' estimates.
Revenue rose 7.5 percent to $3.01 billion.