Air Liquide reports 3.2% rise in full-year sales

FILE PHOTO: The Air Liquide logos are displayed at the Alteo calcined alumina production plant in Gardanne, near Marseille, France, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French industrial gases company Air Liquide AIRP.PA reported on Tuesday a 3.2% rise in its full-year sales driven by the development of its gas and services and technologies businesses.

Gas and services activities, which represent 96% of the group’s sales, rose 3.5% on a comparable basis to 21.04 billion euros ($22.95 billion).

“Overall, and despite the expected global economic slowdown observed in the fourth quarter, the group delivered robust results,” Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier said in a statement.

The group’s operating margin rose by 90 basis points to 17.3%, reflecting active management of both pricing and product mix, the asset portfolio, and efficiencies.

For 2020, the company is expecting to increase its operating margin and to deliver net profit growth amid new uncertainty related to the coronavirus.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in mainland China soared past 1,000 on Tuesday. More than 40,000 people were infected.

Reported by Camille Raynaud, editing by Louise Heavens