Buying Air to Counter Stocks Turmoil

The industrial gases sector is shielded from cyclical effects and the four sector majors, Air Liquide, Linde, Praxair and Air Products can generate earnings growth of around 10 percent between 2007 and 2011, Jean-Paul Sabbagh, equity research analyst at Oddo Securities, said.

Air Products and Chemicals and Praxair are listed on the NYSE, Linde trades in Frankfurt and Air Liquide in Paris.

The four leading players have 70 percent of the market, meaning they have pricing power, raw materials for the sector are readily available and they have long-term contracts in place, Sabbagh wrote in a research note.

"This holds considerable appeal for investors in periods of stockmarket turmoil," he added.

Air Liquide is the most attractive of the four, Sabbagh wrote, and Oddo Securities has a "buy" recommendation on it.

Between 2002 and 2007, Air Liquide’s share price gained 50 percent, while the CAC 40 lost almost 10 percent and since last year the stock share price rose 14 percent, relative to a chemicals sector threatened by a squeeze.

- by Nadina Richardson, Special to