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Airgas falls after chairman sells 1.2M shares

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Airgas Inc. fell Tuesday after the specialty gas distributor said that its executive chairman sold 1.2 million of his shares of its common stock, or about 15 percent of his holdings.

THE SPARK: Airgas said that Peter McCausland sold the shares in a privately-negotiated overnight block trade. He now owns about 7 million shares of the Radnor, Pa.-based company's common stock

THE BIG PICTURE: Airgas said McCausland sold the shares in connection with personal financial planning matters, including tax planning and the repayment of debt incurred to exercise Airgas stock options in recent years and hold the resulting shares.

THE SHARES: Down $2.52, or 2.8 percent, to $87.95 in heavy morning trading, after dipping as low as $86.25 earlier in the session. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $69.51 and $93.05.

Over the past six weeks, Airgas shares have gained about 13 percent. So far this year, they're up about 16 percent.