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Praxair Acquires Acetylene

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Industrial gas producer and supplier, Praxair Inc’s (PX - Free Report) subsidiary, Praxair Distribution Inc. strengthened its foothold in Texas by acquiring Acetylene Oxygen Company for an undisclosed amount.

Acetylene is a Harlingen, Texas-based independent gas and wielding products distributor in the United States. The company was founded in 1932 by the Wolf family.

The acquisition of Acetylene will ease Praxair’s access to the former’s twenty four operating areas in the central and southern Texas, including four cylinder filling plants. In the last 12 months, Praxair made similar efforts in expanding its services in the Texas region through the acquisition of National Alloy and Texas Welders Supply Company in the second half of 2011.

Long-term growth prospects are bright for the company. Praxair’s policy of returning values to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks as well as strategic acquisitions and joint ventures have a good deal of potential and will also help the company in achieving its long-term target of annual organic sales growth of 8%-12% by 2015.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter 2012 is $1.38, representing a year-over-year growth of 1.8%. Estimates for 2012 and 2013 are $5.57 and $6.19, reflecting annual growth of 2.6% and 11.0%, respectively.

The stock also carries a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term (1-3 months) Hold rating. Its prime competitor Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD - Free Report) has a Zacks #4 (Sell) rating. The company in its September ending quarter reported earnings per share of $1.42, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents. Estimate for the December ending quarter currently stands at $1.29 per share.

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