Operational challenges and higher costs hampered Air Products and Chemicals Inc’s quarterly profit and led executives to forecast a tepid fiscal fourth quarter, pushing the company’s stock down 2.4 per cent.
Air Products, which supplies argon, oxygen and other industrial gases to retail, manufacturing and construction customers, said its operations in North America remain the weakest, hurt by lackluster consumer demand and uncertainty about U.S economic policy.
“The economy in North America has kind of hit a soft patch,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Huck said on a conference call with reporters. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty around there.”
Asian growth remains strong, and the company plans to increase its capital spending there, Huck said. The Air Products results came on the same day that manufacturing giants Honeywell Inc and Caterpillar Inc issued weak forecasts.
Planned customer plant shutdowns during the fiscal third quarter dented Air Products’ tonnage business, which operates industrial gas facilities on-site for customers. Higher costs ate into the merchant business, which supplies industrial gas for retail and construction customers.
From / Gulf today