“Organic sales growth has been disappointing this quarter,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Molinini. “Organic sales year-over-year growth rates, which were 6% in the December quarter, have moved lower this quarter. Based on sales to date and current trends, we now expect year-over-year organic growth for our fourth quarter to be in the range of 1% to 2%, compared to growth of 6% to 7% which was assumed in our guidance.
“While we anticipated near-term sales challenges due to the uncertainty caused by the significant and rapid decline in oil prices and the impact of the strong dollar on manufacturers that export, we are experiencing greater than anticipated declines in growth rates in our Energy & Chemicals and Manufacturing customer segments. We have also been impacted by challenging weather conditions throughout much of the country. As a result of this anticipated sales shortfall, we now estimate that earnings per diluted share will be in the range of $1.13 to $1.16 as compared to our prior year’s fourth quarter adjusted earnings per diluted share* of $1.15.”
“We are seeing an economy that is clearly weaker than it was in the December quarter, and the level of uncertainty in the marketplace makes it difficult for us to predict our near-term sales outlook. We continue to look hard at all our operating costs and execute our productivity initiatives, and we will manage more tightly all capital expenditures until sustained growth levels return. We remain optimistic that the U.S. economy and Airgas will ultimately benefit as lower energy costs filter through the large and diverse customer base we serve, but we cannot count on strong organic growth in the near-term,” said Executive Chairman Peter McCausland. “We are confident that Airgas is maintaining or improving its competitive position in the industry.”
Airgas, Inc. is one of the largest U.S. suppliers of safety products, and a leading U.S. supplier of refrigerants, ammonia products, and process chemicals. More than 16,000 associates work in approximately 1,100 locations, including branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. Airgas also markets its products and services through e-Business, catalog and telesales channels.