Airgas Shares Slump After Profit, Sales Outlook Cut

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Shares of Airgas Inc. slumped in premarket trade Friday, after the industrial gas and welding equipment supplier cuts its fiscal fourth-quarter profit outlook because of disappointing sales since the start of the year. The company now expects earnings per share of $1.13 to $1.16, down from a previous outlook of $1.25 to $1.30. Airgas said year-over-year organic revenue growth, which excludes currency and other effects, is now expected to be 1% to 2%, compared with a prior estimate of 6% to 7%. "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," said Chief Executive Michael Molinini. "We have also been impacted by challenging weather conditions throughout much of the country." The stock, which was down 1.9% in light premarket trade, has lost 1.9% so far this year, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.5%.

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