Slight upward trend for Linde shares

In this environment, over the year there was a slight upward trend in the price of Linde shares. The closing price of the shares was EUR 154.20, 1.4 percent higher than the price at the end of 2013 of EUR 152.05. This meant that there was also a slight increase in the Group’s market capitalisation of 1.4 percent to EUR 28.625 bn (31 December 2013: EUR 28.219 bn).

Linde shares had a modest start to 2014, with the lowest price for the year (EUR 139.15) being reached on 5 February 2014. The shares recovered strongly in the middle of the year in a favourable stock market environment, with the price reaching its highest level for the year of EUR 157.30 on 20 June 2014. This price was also a new all-time high for Linde shares. In the second half of the year, Linde shares performed in line with the DAX, although the Group was only able to report relatively low growth. In the first part of October, Linde shares were even outperforming the German share index. However, when the Group revised its targets at the end of the month, the shares saw a significant if temporary decline. However, they quickly recovered as the year came to an end, finishing 2014 almost back in line with the overall trend of the DAX.

Despite the difficult operating environment, especially in the second half of the year, the relatively steady overall performance of Linde shares is evidence that the capital market appreciates the Group’s business model which is characterised by long-term contract structures, a broad customer base and stable cash flows. At the same time, Linde’s international gases and engineering business continues to offer attractive opportunities for development.

The capital market also acknowledges that Linde has enhanced its robustness by focusing on the expansion of its Healthcare business, which is largely immune to cyclical economic trends. The Group’s very good position in growth markets is also viewed positively. Linde uses the term “growth markets” to describe the emerging economies (comprising the regions of Eastern Europe, Africa, South & East Asia and Greater China) plus the region of North America. The continuing implementation of Linde’s holistic HPO (High Performance Organisation) programme, which is designed to achieve lasting efficiency improvements, and the evolution of the Group as a learning organisation, also contribute to the positive assessment of Linde in the capital market. The announcement that Linde will continue to build on its strengths and focus even more on efficiency will also enhance the confidence of market participants.

Linde also made progress during the financial year in terms of sustainability ratings in the capital market. In September 2014, the Group was again included in the global Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World). Analysts at RobecoSAM acknowledged the Group in particular for its activities in the fields of customer relationships, compliance, and risk and crisis management. The regional index of the CDP investor initiative nominated the Group for its good climate protection reporting. In 2014, Linde also qualified for inclusion in the FTSE4Good Index Series.

The leading international rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s award Linde a high credit rating. In December 2014, Standard & Poor’s confirmed its good credit rating of A+ with a stable outlook. Moody’s increased its rating of the Group in June 2014 by one notch from A3 to A2 with a stable outlook. In December 2014, Moody’s reconfirmed this credit rating. The agencies hereby recognise the Group’s conservative financial policy and its robust business model as well as its good liquidity situation.

During the financial year, Linde was able to benefit repeatedly from these ratings and from the good conditions in the international capital markets for corporate bonds. In the second quarter of 2014, the Group issued a ten-year EUR 300 m bond with a 1.875 percent coupon. The bond issue was used to provide additional external funding for the pension plans in Germany. In the third quarter of 2014, the Group also placed two USD 200 m bonds to refinance a USD 400 m bond maturing in November 2014.

In 2014, the EUR 2.5 bn credit facility agreed in July 2013 was successfully extended by one year to 2019. The credit facility originally ran for five years, with two options to extend the facility, in each case by one year (subject to the agreement of the lenders). One option to extend the facility in 2015 by one year remains.

With the syndicated credit facility supplementing its liquid funds, Linde had a solid general liquidity reserve at the end of 2014.

Linde Share Performance in 2010–2014 compared with indices
Linde Share Performance in 2010–2014 compared with indices (Line chart)
  (XLS:) Download XLS (23KiB)

Linde performance in comparison with the most important indices1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 in percent

 

Weighting Linde shares in percent

1

As at 31 December 2014.

Linde (including dividend)

 

3.4

 

Linde (excluding dividend)

 

1.4

 

DAX

 

2.7

 

3.31

Prime Chemical

 

4.0

 

13.01

DJ EURO STOXX

 

1.7

 

0.81

DJ EURO STOXX Chemical

 

1.4

 

7.94

FTSEurofirst 300

 

4.0

 

0.46

FTSE E300 Chemical

 

2.8

 

9.03

MSCI Euro

 

2.0

 

0.42