Strong gases help lift BOC's first quarter to £112m

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The Independent Online
A strong performance by BOC's gases division helped lift the company's first-quarter profit before tax to £112.3m, up 15.7 per cent on the same period last year.

Turnover was £825.3m for the three months to the end of December, up from £799.8m.

The gases division achieved a 15 per cent increase in operating profits, with the strongest performance coming in the United States. The company, whose chairman is Richard Giordano, supplies gases such as nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide for a wide range of industrial uses.

Operating profit after interest was £89.4m, up 17.5 per cent on the same period last year The strong performance in gases continues the trend started in the second half of the previous financial year. The best performance came from the US, South Africa and the North Pacific, with the exception of Japan. In contrast margins in the UK were tight.

The profits of BOC's Ohmeda health-care business increased 6.4 per cent to £15m, on turnover of £125m. The company sells vaporisers and anaesthesia machines to hospitals Vacuum technology and distribution services' operating profits increased by 31 per cent to £11.8m.

The company was affected by the Kobe earthquake in Japan. Although no employees lost their lives, production was disrupted and the company says that the disturbance to industry and transport systems in the area will effect business performance.

Net earnings per share were 11.36p before exceptional items, up from 9.42p last year .

BOC's shares finished the day up 2p at 720p.