* Linde sees 2013 op. profit of around 4 bln euros
* Previously saw profit of at least 4 bln euros
* Warns could miss 2016 profit if forex rates unchanged
* Q3 op. profit 1.03 bln eur vs poll avg 986 bln (Adds Q3 results, 2016 outlook)
MUNICH, Oct 29 (Reuters) - German industrial gases maker Linde trimmed its 2013 profit outlook on Tuesday after hits from unfavourable currency swings, including the Australian dollar, in the third quarter.
Linde, which competes for market leadership with France’s Air Liquide, said it expected annual operating profit of around 4 billion euros ($5.5 billion), compared with a previous outlook for at least 4 billion.
It still aims for an increase in sales this year.
Analysts on average see Linde’s 2013 operating profit at 3.98 billion euros and revenue at about 17 billion, up from 3.53 billion and 15.8 billion respectively last year.
Linde said it still saw annual operating profit rising to at least 5 billion euros in 2016 but warned about 250 million euros could be shaved from that number if exchange rates remained at similar levels as now over the coming years.
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 and lift the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Operating profit for the third quarter through September rose 8.5 percent to 1.03 billion euros thanks to its recent acquisition of Lincare, a U.S.-based provider of oxygen and respiratory therapy services to patients in the home.
While currency effects shaved 7.6 percentage points off the profit growth rate, quarterly operating profit was still above an average analyst estimate of 986 million euros in a Reuters poll.
Group sales rose 5.4 percent to 4.26 billion euros, falling slightly short of consensus for 4.28 billion as currency effects caused an 8.1 percent slump in sales at Linde’s gases business in Asia-Pacific. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Cowell)