Airgas, Inc. (ARG), the supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hardgoods, declared that its operating units will increase the prices on helium by 20%. This increase is for countering rising costs for obtaining and distributing the gas.
Helium, which is lighter than air, is used in everything from party balloons to MRI machines. However, supply chain disruptions remain a challenge to the industry due to global shortage and resulting allocations of helium.
The price rise by Airgas reflects the action taken by the Bureau of Land Management (:BLM). BLM, which supplies a significant portion of helium in the U.S., is charging helium refiners more for the gas.
In addition, supplier allocations and constantly changing supply and demand geographies are incurring greater distribution expenses to carry the gas from its place of production to its customers. The price jump will take effect immediately, but the exact price changes may differ depending on market conditions or contract provisions.
Airgas is optimistic about future prospects in the U.S. manufacturing and energy industries, as well as non-residential construction, unique value proposition and a less challenging platform. However, it will continue to face risks from helium supply constraints and a larger-than-expected R-22 impact.
Radnor, Pa.-based Airgas through its subsidiaries, distributes gases as a well as hardgoods to diverse businesses in the U.S. The company also markets its products and services through e-business, catalog and telesales channels.
Airgas currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
However, better-ranked stocks in the same industry are Asahi Kasei Corporation (AHKSY), Johnson Matthey plc (JMPLY) and BASF SE (BASFY). While Asahi Kasei and Johnson Matthey carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), BASF SE holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).