Thursday, July 22, 2010

Airgas reports first-quarter earnings, raises full-year guidance

Distributor rejects revised unsolicited tender offer from Air Products & Chemicals

Industrial, medical, and specialty gases distributor Airgas Inc. reported an increase in sales and earnings for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30, 2010.

First-quarter sales were $1.05 billion, up 7% compared to the previous quarter and up 6% compared to the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share rose 26% compared to the same period a year ago and were up 20% sequentially. Airgas’ adjusted earnings exclude legal and professional fees of 3 cents per share related to an unsolicited takeover attempt by Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., debt extinguishment charges of 2 cents per share, and multi-employer pension plan withdrawl charges of 2 cents per share.

Also, Airgas said its board voted unanimously to reject a revised unsolicited tender offer from Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. to acquire all outstanding common shares of Airgas for $63.50 per share in cash. Air Products initiated its takeover attempt late last year, and Airgas rejected a $60 per share offer in February, saying that it undervalued the company.

Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland said the revised offer continues to “grossly undervalue” Airgas.

“The Airgas board of directors is unanimous in its belief that the revised offer from Air Products continues to grossly undervalue Airgas and does not fairly compensate stockholders for Airgas’ extraordinary track record, outstanding recent results, excellent growth prospects or industry-leading position. In our Board's judgment, the new Air Products offer, like Air Products' previous offers, is grossly inadequate and an extremely opportunistic attempt to cut off the Airgas stockholders' ability to benefit as the domestic economy continues its recovery," McCausland said in a prepared statement.

Airgas also revised its full-year earnings guidance, saying it expects adjusted earnings per share of $3.15 to $3.30 for the year, up from its previous estimate of $2.95 to $3.05 per share.

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