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AIRGAS REPORTS RECORD EARNINGS AND CASH FLOW IN FIRST QUARTER

 AIRGAS REPORTS RECORD EARNINGS AND CASH FLOW IN FIRST QUARTER
 WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) reported today that net earnings increased 73 percent to a record $2,506,000 or $.34 per share during the first quarter ended June 30, 1992, from $1,451,000 or $.23 per share in the first quarter last year.
 After-tax cash flow (net earnings plus depreciation, amortization and deferred taxes) increased 22 percent to a record $10,036,000 or $1.36 per share from $8,258,000 in the first quarter last year. The increase in net earnings is primarily due to the company's strong cash flow resulting in lower interest costs due to debt repayment, lower interest rates, increased profits from distribution operations and increased profits of the company's calcium carbide manufacturing operations. The increase in net earnings was partially offset by a decrease in earnings from carbon products operations as a result of lower sales.
 On April 1, 1992, the company amended the terms of its calcium carbide joint venture agreement. As a result of this amendment, calcium carbide operations are now reported as components of manufacturing net sales and operating expenses. During the prior year, net calcium carbide operating results were shown below operating income as "Earnings Related to Joint Venture."
 Net sales increased 19 percent to $97,861,000 during the first quarter ended June 30, 1992, over the same period in the prior year primarily due to the acquisition of 19 industrial gas distribution companies since April 1, 1991, and the addition of calcium carbide revenues. Same-store sales declined approximately 2 percent from the prior year because of the weakened economy.
 AIRGAS, INC.
 Consolidated Statements of Earnings
 (Unaudited; in thousands of dollars, except per-share data)
 Three months ended
 June 30 1992 1991
 Net sales:
 Distribution $90,536 $77,043
 Manufacturing 7,325 5,046
 Total net sales 97,861 82,089
 Costs and expenses:
 Cost of products sold (excluding
 depreciation and amortization) 50,168 41,924
 Selling, distribution and
 administrative expenses 33,334 28,535
 Depreciation and amortization 6,661 5,522
 Total costs and expenses 90,163 75,981
 Operating income:
 Distribution 6,399 5,090
 Manufacturing 1,299 1,018
 Total 7,698 6,108
 Earnings related to joint venture --- 408
 Interest expense, net (2,772) (3,432)
 Other income, net 193 115
 Minority interest (130) (119)
 Earnings before income taxes 4,989 3,080
 Income taxes 2,483 1,629
 Net earnings 2,506 1,451
 Per share(A):
 Net earnings .34 .23
 Weighted average shares 7,385 7,238
 (A) Per-share amounts were determined by using the modified treasury stock method which assumes the exercise of all outstanding options and warrants.
 /delval/
 -0- 8/3/92 R
 /CONTACT: Britton H. Murdoch or Steve Kapp of Airgas, 215-687-5253/
 (ARG) CO: Airgas, Inc. ST: Delaware IN: SU: ERN


MA-SF -- PH005R -- 6143 08/03/92 12:08 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 3, 1992
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