Industrial gases group BOC disappointed the market with profits figures - but said it remained happy with the outlook.
Adjusted profits of £118.9 million in the three months to June 30 were nine per cent down on a year earlier and lighter than City forecasts of around £123.4 million.
Shares were more than one per cent lower, as the group said stronger performances at process gas solutions - a division supplying major customers - and its industrial and special products division had been offset by a weaker showing from BOC Edwards, which supplies gases to the semiconductor industry.
BOC Edwards produced a similar performance to the previous quarter, but a buoyant third quarter of 2004 left the year-on-year operating profits comparison lower by 41 per cent at £9 million.
A restructuring charge of £8.1 million was also taken by BOC Edwards in yesterday's quarterly figures.
Surrey-based BOC, which serves two million customers in more than 50 countries, had annual sales of almost £4.6 billion in 2004.
The figures showed that process gas solutions achieved a profits rise of seven per cent to £52.5 million while industrial and special products, which serves customers who need smaller volumes of gas - mainly in cylinders - achieved a five per cent improvement to £70.3 million.
BOC said it was pleased with the progress of the two main businesses, particularly after the process gas solutions arm won major hydrogen contracts to supply Chevron and Holly Corporation in the United States.
It said the company's Industrial and Special Products business had successfully delivered the expected operating improvements following recent portfolio changes.
BOC, through unit African Oxygen, sold its 68 per cent stake in Afrox Healthcare last March. The disposal cut Afrox's third-quarter profits by 83 per cent.