Gas & Services, which represent 96% of Group sales, were almost flat, with contrasted situations. Momentum in Healthcare and Electronics remained particularly good; Large Industries sales recovered, whereas Industrial Merchant, which showed a marked sequential improvement, still remained at alevelbelow2019. By region, sales in Europe and Asia were stronger than in the 3rd quarter of 2019 on a comparable basis, and the Americas improved compared with the 2nd quarter of 2020.
Global Markets & Technologies also saw a return to growth, whereas Engineering & Construction sales demonstrated progressive improvement, compared to previous quarters.
The Group continued its drive to improve its operating margin, delivering 311 million euros of efficiencies over the first nine months, in line with its annual target of more than 400 million euros, and the additional cost containment
plan continued to deliver.
The continued improvement in performance translated in to cash flow from operating activities which reached nearly 24% of sales. The investment cycle remains well oriented and the 12-month portfolio of investment opportunities, which is refocused on growth markets, stands at a high level.Investment decisions,which ensure future growth,were significant at 2.1 billion euros at the end of September, almost one third relating to the energy transition.
In a context of limited local lockdown sand progressive recovery until the end of 2020, Air Liquide is confident in its ability to further increase its operating margin and to deliver net profit(1) close to preceding year level,at constant exchange rates.”
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