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AIRGAS REPORTS RECORD FOURTH QUARTER AND YEAR-END EARNINGS; RECORD AFTER-TAX CASH FLOW

 AIRGAS REPORTS RECORD FOURTH QUARTER AND YEAR-END EARNINGS;
 RECORD AFTER-TAX CASH FLOW
 WILMINGTON, Del., May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) today reported record earnings from continuing operations of $2,350,000 or $.33 per share during the fourth quarter ended March 31, 1992.
 This compares to net earnings (before losses associated with restructured businesses) of $846,000 or $.15 per share in the fourth quarter last year. The increase in earnings is due to increased margins on gas and cylinder rental revenues, strong cash flow resulting in lower interest costs due to debt repayment, lower interest rates, price increases and the effects of cost containment programs.
 During the fourth quarter of the prior year the company recorded a $.66 per share net restructuring charge related to the divestiture of certain medical homecare businesses, a pneumatic and hydraulic parts business and a small tool business. The restructuring charge also included severance costs associated with the downsizing of the corporate headquarters and administrative staff. Including the net restructuring charge and operating losses recorded by restructured businesses of $3.8 million during the quarter ended March 31, 1991, the company recorded a net loss of $2,938,000 or $.51 per share.
 After-tax cash flow (net earnings plus depreciation, amortization and deferred taxes) increased 29 percent to a record $9,516,000 or $1.32 per share during the fourth quarter ended March 31, 1992. Excluding restructured businesses and severance charges, after-tax cash flow in the fourth quarter last year was $7,354,000 or $1.04 per share.
 Peter McCausland, chairman and chief executive officer, commented, "Through this recession Airgas has been successful in keeping costs in check and able to report earnings growth as a result of improving operational efficiencies and lower interest costs. Our strong cash flow has enabled us to internally fund the majority of our acquisitions. The accelerated strategic acquisition program completed transactions totalling $70 million in distribution sales this year." McCausland added, "I am extremely optimistic that the rebound in the economy combined with our strong cash flow and the infrastructure we have built over the past several years will allow Airgas to make further operational improvements, increase earnings and thereby continue to enhance shareholder value."
 Net sales increased 15 percent to $94,093,000 during the fourth quarter ended March 31, 1992, over the same period in the prior year due to the acquisition of industrial gas distribution companies and are net of a decline in same-store sales of approximately 3 percent from the prior year because of the weakened economy.
 Year Ended March 31, 1992
 Net earnings increased to $7,292,000 during the year ended March 31, 1992, from $1,166,000 last year. Excluding restructuring charges and operating results of restructured businesses and severance costs, 1991 net earnings were $5,096,000. After-tax cash flow (net earnings plus depreciation, amortization and deferred taxes) increased 15 percent to a record $35,089,000 or $5.01 per share during the year ended March 31, 1992, from $30,392,000 or $4.37 per share in the prior year, excluding restructured businesses.
 Primary earnings per share increased 28 percent to $1.09 during 1992 compared to $.85 per share in 1991, excluding restructured businesses. Fully diluted earnings per share were $1.04 in 1992 compared to $.85 in the prior year.
 The increase in net earnings is primarily due to lower interest costs resulting from debt repayment and lower interest rates, price increases and the effects of cost containment programs.
 Net sales increased 9 percent to $351,491,000 during the year ended March 31, 1992, over the prior year due to the acquisition of industrial gas distribution businesses and is net of a decline in same-store sales of approximately 5 percent because of the weakened economy.
 Airgas, Inc. is the largest distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases in the United States with more than 235 locations.
 Airgas has acquired 110 industrial gas distributors since going public in 1986.
 AIRGAS, INC.
 Consolidated Statements of Earnings
 (Unaudited; in thousands, except per-share data)
 Periods ended Three months Year
 March 31 1992 1991 1992 1991
 Net sales:
 Distribution $89,601 $77,011 $332,224 $301,313
 Manufacturing 4,492 5,043 19,267 21,165
 Total net sales 94,093 82,054 351,491 322,478
 Costs and expenses:
 Cost of products sold
 (excluding depreciation
 and amortization) 46,669 42,395 177,352 166,420
 Selling, distribution and
 administrative expenses 34,289 30,485 124,403 113,414
 Depreciation and amortization 6,007 5,668 23,420 21,158
 Restructuring charges and
 severance --- 4,200 --- 4,200
 Total costs and expenses 86,965 82,748 325,175 305,192
 Operating income:
 Distribution 6,442 3,876 22,638 18,509
 Distribution -- restructured
 businesses and severance --- (5,602) --- (5,271)
 Manufacturing 686 1,032 3,678 4,048
 Total operating income (loss) 7,128 (694) 26,316 17,286
 Earnings related to joint
 venture 468 405 1,814 1,872
 Interest expense, net (2,746) (3,710)(12,838) (15,179)
 Other income, net 8 277 214 870
 Minority interest (133) (77) (496) (283)
 Earnings before income taxes 4,725 (3,799) 15,010 4,566
 Income taxes (benefit) 2,375 (861) 7,718 3,400
 Net earnings (loss) 2,350 (2,938) 7,292 1,166
 Net earnings (loss) per share(A):
 Primary $.33 $(.51) $1.09 $.21
 Fully diluted .33 (.51) 1.04 .21
 Weighted average shares 7,195 5,771 6,997 5,672
 (A) During the three months and year ended March 31, 1992, per- share amounts were determined by using the modified treasury stock method which assumes the exercise of all outstanding options and warrants. Fully diluted per-share amounts for the year ended March 31, 1992, were determined using the modified treasury stock method, using the higher stock price at March 31, 1992, to repurchase stock, compared to the average stock price for the primary computation. The use of a higher ending market price for the fully diluted computation results in more option proceeds used to repurchase common stock and, therefore, less after-tax interest savings.
 During the three months and year ended March 31, 1991, per-share amounts were determined dividing net earnings by the weighted averaged number of common shares.
 /delval/
 -0- 5/18/92
 /CONTACT: Britton H. Murdoch or Steve Kapp of Airgas, 215-687-5253/
 (ARG) CO: Airgas, Inc. ST: Delaware IN: SU: ERN


LJ-MK -- PH006 -- 1189 05/18/92 09:48 EDT
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Date:May 18, 1992
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