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Airgas 4Q profit may fall short due to weak sales

RADNOR, Pa. (AP) -- Airgas, which supplies gases for industrial and medical uses and other equipment, said Thursday it may fall short of its fourth-quarter profit guidance because of weak sales.

The Radnor, Pa., company said sales, not counting acquisitions, fell 2 percent in February in its distribution division and have not improved in March. In January and February, sales were unchanged from last year.

Airgas had predicted profit, excluding one-time costs, of $1.18 to $1.24 per share in the quarter ending later this month. It said Thursday that it may miss the low end of that forecast by 4 percent. Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of $1.23 per share.

Airgas Inc.'s stock fell $5.50, or 5.3 percent, to $97.85 in morning trading. Over the past year, the shares have traded between $76.01 and $103.83.