By ICN GroupGas, July 30, 2020
Linde registers healthy earnings despite volume drop
Adjusted earnings per share were $1.90, 4% above prior year, or 8% higher when excluding negative currency translation effects.
Linde plc today reported second-quarter 2020 income from continuing operations of $458 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.87. Excluding Linde AG purchase accounting impacts and other charges, adjusted income from continuing operations was $1,005 million, up 1% versus prior year and flat sequentially. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.90, 4% above prior year, or 8% higher when excluding negative currency translation effects. Sequentially, adjusted earnings per share increased 1%, or 3% when excluding negative currency translation effects.
Linde's sales for the second quarter were $6,377 million, 5% below prior year excluding negative currency translation, cost pass-through and divestitures. Price improved 2% and was attained across all geographic segments. Volume decreased 7% as growth from project start-ups and engineering was more than offset by the global macroeconomic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second-quarter operating profit was $591 million. Adjusted operating profit of $1,317 million was flat versus prior year, or 4% higher, when excluding unfavorable currency translation effects. Adjusted operating margin of 20.7% expanded 230 basis points versus prior year primarily due to price and cost actions underpinned by stable fixed payment revenues.
Second-quarter operating cash flow of $1,764 million increased $759 million or 76% over prior year primarily driven by higher cash earnings, lower merger-related cost and improved working capital. During the quarter, the company invested $783 million in capital expenditures and returned $506 million to shareholders through dividends.
Commenting on the financial results, Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel said, "I'm proud of how the Linde team came together to safely and reliably serve our customers and deliver high-quality financial results. Despite volume reductions from the pandemic, EPS excluding currency increased 8%, operating margin expanded 230 basis points and operating cash flow grew 76% from prior-year levels. These results demonstrate the resiliency of our integrated industrial gas supply model."
Angel continued, "Looking ahead, the full effects of COVID-19 and the rate of recovery are uncertain. However, the growth opportunities for Linde remain strong from our high-quality project backlog, defensive end markets and leading infrastructure and technology in support of the secular trend in clean energy. Our resilient business model combined with our ability to continuously optimize business performance, while capitalizing on short and long-term growth opportunities, gives me the confidence that Linde can grow earnings in any environment."
For the third quarter of 2020, Linde expects adjusted diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.90 to $1.95. This guidance assumes a negative currency impact of approximately 3% versus the prior-year quarter based on projected exchange rates.
For the full year, the company expects adjusted diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $7.60 to $7.80, up 4% to 6% versus prior year, or 7% to 9% excluding currency headwinds. Full-year capital expenditures are expected to between $3.0 billion to $3.4 billion to support maintenance and growth requirements including the $3.6 billion contractual sale of gas project backlog.
Second-Quarter 2020 Results by Segment
Americas sales of $2,417 million were 13% below prior-year quarter as 2% higher pricing was more than offset by 9% volume decline led mainly by manufacturing and metals end markets. Furthermore, currency was unfavorable by 4% and cost pass-through was down 1%. Operating profit of $622 million was 25.7% of sales, up 250 basis points versus prior year.
APAC (Asia Pacific) sales of $1,295 million were 13% below prior year. Price increased 1% versus prior year but was more than offset by negative 9% volumes driven by lower demand in the manufacturing end market and a prior-year sale of equipment. Additionally, currency was unfavorable by 4% and cost pass-through was down 1%. Operating profit of $294 million was 22.7% of sales, up 230 basis points versus prior year.
EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) sales of $1,448 million were down 13% versus prior year as 1% higher pricing was more than offset by negative 7% volumes primarily due to lower demand in the manufacturing and metals end market. Currency was unfavorable by 5% and cost pass through was down 1%. Operating profit of $303 million was 20.9% of sales, up 110 basis points versus prior year.
Linde Engineering sales were $810 million and operating profit was $138 million or 17% of sales. Operating profit grew 39% versus prior year due primarily to strong project execution and productivity initiatives.