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Strong 2020 performance despite Covid-19

A world leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, Air Liquide is present in 78 countries, with approximately 64,500 employees and serves more than 3.8 million customers and patients. Air Liquide’s revenue amounted to more than 20 billion euros in 2020. Air Liquide is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange.

According to the Press Release and Management Report on Financial Results 2020, group revenue for 2020 totaled EUR 20,485 million and decreased  slightly by 1.3%, compared with EUR 21,920 million in 2019 and EUR 21,011 million in 2018.

The Group’s operating income amounted to EUR 3,790 million in 2020, and remained stable, compared to EUR 3,794 million euros in 2019. The operating margin stood at 18.5%, marking a strong improvement of 120 basis points compared with 17.3% in 2019 and 16.4% in 2018.

Despite the pandemic, net profit amounted to EUR 2,435 million euros in 2020, a significant increase of 8.6% from EUR 2,242 million in 2019 (EUR 2,113 in 2018). Net earnings per share at EUR 5.16, was up significantly by 8.5%, compared with 2019.
Operating income recurring before depreciation and amortization totaled EUR 5,928 million and remained stable representing a small decrease of 0.1% compared with 2019.

Cash flow from operating activities before changes in net working capital totaled EUR 4,932 million compared to EUR 4,859 million in 2019, representing an increase of 1.5%, despite a slowdown in activity due to the public health crisis. This corresponds to a record high of 24.1% of sales, compared with 2019. Working capital decreased significantly, by EUR 364 million compared with December 31, 2019. This was due to the slowdown in activity relating to the public health crisis.

The return on capital employed after tax (ROCE) was 9.0% in 2020. Recurring ROCE stood at 8.6% and remained stable compared with 2019, despite the decline in business due to the public health crisis.

Segmentally, Gas & Services revenue, which accounts for 96% of Group revenue, totaled EUR 19,956 million and decreased by 1.2% from EUR 21,040 million in 2019. Sales were down by 6.6% in 2020 affected by unfavorable currency and energy impacts.

Global Markets & Technologies revenue for 2020 reached EUR 579 million, representing a growth of 6.0% compared to EUR 552 million in 2019, driven by the biogas activity. Order intake for Group projects and third-party customers totaled EUR 598 million, representing a dynamic increase of 14.3% over the year.

Engineering & Construction consolidated revenue, which was down by 23% over the year, enjoyed a strong increase of 24.1% in the 4th quarter 2020. Sales totaled EUR 250million in 2020 compared to EUR 328 million in 2019.

Geographically, operating income recurring for the Americas region reached EUR 1,530 million in 2020 and remained stable, slightly decreased by 0.4% compared with 2019. Excluding the energy impact, the operating margin accounted for 19.4%, marking a significant increase of 120 basis points compared with 2019. This was driven by exceptional cost-cutting plan launched in response to the public health crisis across the region, in particular at Airgas.

Operating income recurring for Europe reached EUR 1,405 million, representing a slight decrease of 1.8% compared with 2019. Excluding the energy impact, the operating margin was 19.9%, making a decrease of just 10 basis points, driven by the improvement in the Healthcare operating margin due to volume effects and pricing impacts which were stable over the year.

Operating income recurring for Asia Pacific totaled EUR 985 million and made an increase of 3.6%. The operating margin was 21.6% excluding the energy impact and increased significantly by 180 basis points. Structural efficiency and exceptional cost-cutting measures made a major contribution to improving the margin. Moreover, in Electronics, there was a significant positive impact on the operating margin thanks to the excellent growth of Carrier Gases and Advanced Materials sales.

Operating income recurring for the Middle East and Africa was EUR 95 million representing a reduction of 12.9% compared with 2019. Excluding the energy impact, the operating margin totaled 16.7%, and decreased by 120 basis points as a result of the major decline in activity across the region due to the public health crisis, notably in Industrial Merchant in Africa.

The Group‘s performance in 2020 was outstanding in the environment of fighting against Covid-19: sales resilience, significant margin improvement, net profit growth and investment decisions continued at a very high level. This positions the Group for future growth and enables it to already benefit from the acceleration seen in healthcare, energy transition, and the increasing presence of technologies, in particular digital, in all sectors. Over the full year, 2020 sales were practically stable on a comparable basis, with business back to growth in the fourth quarter 2020.  Air Liquide is confident in its ability to further increase its operating margin and to deliver recurring net profit growth in 2021.