Air Liquide is currently one of the largest French companies. Thinking about investing? Find out all you need to know in our article.
Air Liquide (or AL) is a French company of international scope headquartered in Paris, precisely 75 Quai d'Orsay. Currently led by its Chairman and CEO, Benoît Potier, the group is active in the industrial gas production field. Since 1913, Air Liquide's shares have been listed on the stock exchange and are referenced in the CAC 40 index, the Euro Stoxx 50 and the FTSE4Good.
With a capitalization value of 65.4 billion euros, Air Liquide has become the second largest international group in the sector. But is that reason enough to invest in Air Liquide stock? This informative guide will tell you all you need to know.
The company was created in 1902 on the initiative of Paul Delorme with twenty-four contract holders, most of whom were engineers. Called "L'Air Liquide", the company exploited an air liquefaction process developed by a student scientist from the ESPCI called Georges Claude. The initial capital raised to launch the business was one hundred thousand old francs.
To enable industrial exploitation, Georges Claude’s process needed to be improved. Two researchers - René Jacques Lévy and André Helbronner - contributed to perfecting the process.
In just a few years, the company expanded to Belgium (1906), Japan (1907), Spain (1909), Italy (1909) and Canada (1911). This expansion made it possible for Air Liquide to be listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1913.
Since then, the company has continued to grow and diversify its activities in addition to oxygen cylinders. The company is now active in fields such as refining, food processing, technology, engineering and construction.
The Air Liquide Group in a few figures
Air Liquide has adopted a solid strategy based on three core values: network organization, innovation and development. The strategic orientation, whatever the objectives, is customer-focused. Innovation is one of the main pillars of Air Liquide's development, enabling the group to maintain its competitiveness and win new customers and markets.
2020 was marked by the spread of the new coronavirus which impacted many sectors of activity. Tourism, textile industry, transportation and many others were hard hit by the situation.
But gas production and distribution was one of the few sectors spared by the economic crisis caused by the 2020 health crisis. Global demand continues to grow, a situation that is beneficial for Air Liquide. 2020 has been a successful year for Air Liquide.
Over the past ten years, the company's annual sales have continued to grow and have almost doubled in a decade: from 11 billion euros in 2009 to 20 billion euros in 2019, an average annual increase of 18%. Net operating income is 2.8 billion euros (ten-year average), or approximately 16.86% of average revenues. As regards the group's debt, the value of debt represents 40% of revenues until 2016 when debt reached more than 15 billion euros, representing 84.74% of revenues.
The main reason for this significant increase in the group's debts is the acquisition of the American company Airgas. The purchase of Airgas required Air Liquide to issue bonds of 3 billion euros and 4 billion dollars.
The acquisition of Airgas has enabled Air Liquide to combine two complementary activities and to increase its presence in the market. At present, the debt ratio remains quite viable.
Of the companies listed on the CAC 40, Air Liquide is one of the companies where the proportion of individual shareholders is very high. Air Liquide has more than 400,000 individual shareholders. Here is the breakdown of the Air Liquide Group's shares:
Air Liquide's individual shareholder base is one of the largest among CAC 40 companies. The Group's Annual General Meeting attracts more than 4,000 shareholders, one of the most influential and well-attended among CAC 40 companies.
Air Liquide's share price is currently 137.25 euros, the highest price recorded on March 26, 2021. This year, the highest price is 144.45 euros and the lowest price is 105.4 euros. During the month of March, the share price is stable with small variations rarely reaching +/-1.7%.
Continuous trading takes place in compartment A on Euronext Paris. The share data sheet as of December 31, 2019 is :