Linde raises 2019 profit guidance for third time after price hikes

FILE PHOTO: Linde Group logo is seen at a company building in Munich-Pullach, Germany August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

(Reuters) - Linde plc LIN.N on Tuesday raised its 2019 earnings per share (EPS) growth forecast for the third time after it raised prices even as the economic outlook worsened.

The world’s largest industrial gases group now expects adjusted full-year diluted EPS to grow between 17% and 18% to between $7.25 and $7.30, up from previous guidance for 12% to 16% growth.

“For the remainder of the year we anticipate continued softening of the global economy, however, we are raising our full-year EPS guidance given the opportunities we see to continue to improve the quality of our business,” Linde’s CEO Steve Angel said in statement.

Before Tuesday’s release, analysts had expected EPS growth of nearly 15% to $7.12 for the full-year, Refinitiv data showed.

Linde’s Germany-listed shares were up 1.8% at 1143 GMT, heading for their biggest one-day rise since the merged company started trading two years ago.

Linde’s third-quarter adjusted EPS rose 6% to $1.94, beating analysts’ expectations of $1.78. It cited higher price and “continued progress on productivity initiatives” as reasons for the earnings gain.

The supplier of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to factories and hospitals cautioned, however, that unfavorable project timing at its engineering division, and “continued macro weakness” would drag fourth-quarter EPS below the third quarter’s level.

Reporting by Piotr Lipinski in Gdansk; editing by Jason Neely and Ludwig Burger