Linde ups outlook again, optimistic on growth aided by clean energy shift

By Andrey Sychev and Bartosz Dabrowski

(Reuters) -Linde, the world’s largest industrial gases company, said on Thursday it expects to maintain its strong growth track record after raising its annual earnings guidance for a third time this year, aided by a global push for a clean energy transition.

The U.S.-German company has consistently beaten earnings estimates over the past two years, benefiting from growing hydrogen investments as countries look to cut back on emissions.

“I expect Linde to continue giving between 20 to 50 basis points of margin expansion every year,” Chief Executive Sanjiv Lamba said on a conference call.

Linde, which supplies gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to factories and hospitals, expects its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) to grow by 14-15% this year, up from a previous guidance of 12-14%.

Earlier this week, the group announced a $15 billion share buyback plan and a $1.275 per share dividend for the fourth quarter.

“We have a significant amount of excess capital that we can deploy towards this programme,” – Chief Financial Officer Matt White said.

Linde’s shares were up 1.5% at the market open in New York.

Disciplined cash management has allowed the company to raise its business investments by 46% so far in 2023, it said.

In April, Linde said it saw potential to invest more than $50 billion worldwide over the next 10 years as governments turn to green energy.

The group reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $3.63 per share, up 17% on the year, above analysts’ mean estimate according to LSEG data. Its manufacturing and food and beverage units were the biggest growth drivers, while sales in its electronics and metals units dropped.

Linde’s total sales fell 7% to $8.2 billion in the July-September period.

(Reporting by Andrey Sychev and Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk; editing by Jason Neely, Milla Nissi, Sharon Singleton and Jane Merriman)