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EX-31.2 - SECTION 302 CEO CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex312.htm
10-K - AIRGAS, INC. FORM 10-K PDF - AIRGAS INCarg33115form10k.pdf
EX-12 - COMPUTATION OF THE RATIO OF EARNINGS TO FIXED CHARGES - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex12.htm
EX-21 - SUBSIDIARIES OF THE COMPANY - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex21.htm
EX-23 - CONSENT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex23.htm
EX-31.1 - SECTION 302 EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex311.htm
EX-31.3 - SECTION 302 CFO CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex313.htm
EX-32.1 - SECTION 906 EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex321.htm
EX-32.2 - SECTION 906 CEO CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex322.htm
EX-32.3 - SECTION 906 CFO CERTIFICATION - AIRGAS INCarg-33115x10xkex323.htm
EXCEL - IDEA: XBRL DOCUMENT - AIRGAS INCFinancial_Report.xls

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549 
________________________________________
FORM 10-K
________________________________________

ý
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended: March 31, 2015
or
¨
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from
 
to
 
Commission file number: 1-9344 
________________________________________
AIRGAS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
________________________________________
Delaware
 
56-0732648
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
259 North Radnor-Chester Road, Suite 100
Radnor, PA
 
19087-5283
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(ZIP code)
(610) 687-5253
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code) 
________________________________________
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
 
New York Stock Exchange
Preferred Stock Purchase Rights
 
New York Stock Exchange
 
 
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.
________________________________________
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes  ý    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes  ¨   No  ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ý    No  ¨



Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  ý    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
ý
Accelerated filer
¨
 
 
 
 
Non-accelerated filer
o  
Smaller reporting company
¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ¨   No  ý
The aggregate market value of the 67,204,134 shares of voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $7.4 billion computed by reference to the closing price of such stock on the New York Stock Exchange as of the last day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter, September 30, 2014. For purposes of this calculation, only executive officers and directors were deemed to be affiliates.
The number of shares of common stock outstanding as of May 22, 2015 was 75,513,636.
___________________________________________________
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Company’s Proxy Statement for the 2015 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (when it is filed) will be incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.
 
 






AIRGAS, INC.

FORM 10-K
March 31, 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ITEM NO.
 
PAGE
 
 
 
 
 
1.
 
 
 
1A.
 
 
 
1B.
 
 
 
2.
 
 
 
3.
 
 
 
4.
 
 
 
 
 
5.
 
 
 
6.
 
 
 
7.
 
 
 
7A.
 
 
 
8.
 
 
 
9.
 
 
 
9A.
 
 
 
9B.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10.
 
 
 
11.
 
 
 
12.
 
 
 
13.
 
 
 
14.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
15.
 
 
 
 


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PART I
ITEM 1.
BUSINESS.
GENERAL
Airgas, Inc., together with its subsidiaries (“Airgas,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”), became a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 1986. Through a combination of organic growth initiatives and acquisitions in both its core and adjacent lines of business, the Company has become one of the nation’s leading suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hardgoods, such as welding equipment and related products. Airgas is a leading U.S. producer of atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide, dry ice and nitrous oxide, one of the largest U.S. suppliers of safety products, and a leading U.S. supplier of refrigerants, ammonia products and process chemicals. Airgas’ production network and supply agreements, full range of gas supply modes (from cylinders to truckload quantities to on-site pipeline supply) and national footprint make it one of the few fully-integrated industrial gas companies in the U.S. The Company also offers supply chain management services and solutions, and product and process technical support across many diverse customer segments.
The Company markets its products and services through multiple sales channels, including branch-based sales representatives, retail stores, strategic customer account programs, telesales, catalogs, e-Business and independent distributors. Products reach customers through an integrated network of approximately 17,000 associates and more than 1,100 locations, including branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. The Company’s product and service offering, full range of supply modes, national scale and strong local presence offer a competitive edge to its diversified base of more than one million customers.
The Company’s consolidated net sales were $5.30 billion, $5.07 billion and $4.96 billion in the fiscal years ended March 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. The Company’s operations are predominantly in the United States. While the Company does conduct operations outside of the United States in Canada, Mexico, Russia, Dubai and several European countries, revenues from foreign countries represent less than 2% of the Company’s net sales. Information on revenues derived from foreign countries as well as long-lived assets attributable to the Company’s foreign operations can be found in Note 21 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”
Since its inception, the Company has made more than 450 acquisitions. During fiscal 2015, the Company acquired 14 businesses with aggregate historical annual sales of approximately $55 million. The Company acquired these businesses in order to expand its geographic coverage to facilitate the sale of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and related supplies. See Note 3 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” for a description of current and prior year acquisition activity.
The Company has two business segments, Distribution and All Other Operations. The businesses within the Distribution business segment offer a portfolio of related gas and hardgoods products and services to the end customers. The All Other Operations business segment consists of five business units which primarily manufacture and/or distribute carbon dioxide, dry ice, nitrous oxide, ammonia and refrigerant gases. Financial information by business segment can be found in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” (“MD&A”), and in Note 21 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” A more detailed description of the Company’s business segments follows.
DISTRIBUTION BUSINESS SEGMENT
The Distribution business segment accounted for approximately 90% of consolidated net sales in each of the fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013.
Principal Products and Services
The Distribution business segment’s principal products include industrial, medical and specialty gases sold in packaged and bulk quantities, as well as hardgoods. The Company’s air separation facilities and national specialty gas labs primarily produce gases that are sold by the various regional and other business units within the Distribution business segment as part of the complementary suite of similar products and services for the Company’s customers. Gas sales primarily include: atmospheric gases including nitrogen, oxygen and argon; helium; hydrogen; welding and fuel gases such as acetylene, propylene and propane; carbon dioxide; nitrous oxide; ultra high purity grades of various gases; special application blends; and process chemicals. Within the Distribution business segment, the Company also recognizes rent revenue derived from the rental of its gas cylinders, cryogenic liquid containers, bulk storage tanks, tube trailers and welding-related and other equipment. Gas and rent represented 59%, 60% and 59% of the Distribution business segment’s sales in fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Hardgoods consist of welding consumables and equipment, safety products, construction supplies, and

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maintenance, repair and operating supplies. Hardgoods sales represented 41%, 40% and 41% of the Distribution business segment’s sales in fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Principal Markets and Methods of Distribution
The industry has three principal modes of gas distribution: on-site or pipeline supply, bulk or merchant supply, and cylinder or packaged supply. The on-site mode includes the supply of gaseous product to a customer facility via pipeline from a gas supplier’s plant located on or off the customer’s premises. The bulk mode consists of the supply of gases to customers in liquid form in full and partial truckload quantities or in gaseous form in tube trailers. The packaged gas mode includes: the supply of gases to customers in gaseous form in cylinders; in liquid form in less-than-truckload quantities of bulk, also known as microbulk; or in liquid form in portable cryogenic vessels known as dewars. Generally, packaged gas distributors, including the Company and its competitors in the packaged gas market, also supply welding-related hardgoods required by customers to complement their use of gases.
The Company participates in all three modes of supply to varying degrees, with the packaged supply mode representing the most significant portion of its gas sales. The Company is one of the nation’s leading suppliers in the U.S. packaged gas and welding hardgoods market, with an estimated share of more than 25%. The Company’s competitors in this market include local and regional independent distributors which are estimated to account for nearly half of the market’s annual revenues, and certain vertically-integrated gas producers, which account for the remainder of the market.
The Company markets its products and services through multiple sales channels, including branch-based representatives, retail stores, telesales, strategic customer account programs, catalogs, e-Business, and other distributors. Packaged gases and welding-related hardgoods are generally delivered to customers on Company-owned or leased trucks, although third-party carriers are also used in the delivery of welding-related hardgoods and safety products. Packaged gas distribution is a localized business because it is generally not economical to transport gas cylinders more than 50 to 100 miles from a plant or branch. The localized nature of the business makes these markets highly competitive and competition is generally based on reliable product delivery, product availability, technical support, quality and price.     
Customer Base
The Company’s operations are predominantly in the United States. The Company’s customer base is diverse and sales are not dependent on a single or small group of customers. The Company’s largest customer accounts for less than 1% of total net sales. The Company estimates the following industry segments account for the approximate indicated percentages of its net sales:
Manufacturing & Metal Fabrication (29%)
Non-Residential (Energy & Infrastructure) Construction (14%)
Life Sciences & Healthcare (14%)
Food, Beverage & Retail (13%)
Energy & Chemical Production & Distribution (12%)
Basic Materials & Services (12%)
Government & Other (6%).
Supply
The Company’s atmospheric gas production capacity includes 16 air separation plants that produce oxygen, nitrogen and argon, making Airgas the fifth largest U.S. producer of atmospheric gases. In addition, the Company purchases atmospheric and other gases pursuant to contracts with national and regional producers of industrial gases. The Company is a party to take-or-pay supply agreements under which Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (“Air Products”) will supply the Company with bulk nitrogen, oxygen, argon, hydrogen and helium. The Company is committed to purchase a minimum of approximately $66 million in bulk gases within the next fiscal year under the Air Products supply agreements. The agreements expire at various dates through 2020. The Company also has take-or-pay supply agreements with The Linde Group AG (“Linde”) to purchase oxygen, nitrogen, argon and helium. The agreements expire at various dates through 2025 and represent approximately $99 million in minimum bulk gas purchases for the next fiscal year. Additionally, the Company has take-or-pay supply agreements to purchase oxygen, nitrogen, argon, helium and ammonia from other major producers. Minimum purchases under these contracts for the next fiscal year are approximately $36 million and they expire at various dates through 2024. The level of annual purchase commitments under the Company’s supply agreements beyond the next fiscal year vary based on the expiration of agreements at different dates in the future, among other factors.
The Company’s annual purchase commitments under all of its supply agreements reflect estimates based on fiscal 2015 purchases. The Company’s supply agreements contain periodic pricing adjustments, most of which are based on certain

5


economic indices and market analyses. The Company believes the minimum product purchases under the agreements are within the Company’s normal product purchases. Actual purchases in future periods under the supply agreements could differ materially from those presented due to fluctuations in demand requirements related to varying sales levels as well as changes in economic conditions. If a supply agreement with a major supplier of gases or other raw materials was terminated, the Company would attempt to locate alternative sources of supply to meet customer requirements, including utilizing excess internal production capacity for atmospheric gases. The Company purchases hardgoods from major manufacturers and suppliers. For certain products, the Company has negotiated national purchasing arrangements. The Company believes that if an arrangement with any supplier of hardgoods was terminated, it would be able to negotiate comparable alternative supply arrangements.
ALL OTHER OPERATIONS BUSINESS SEGMENT
The All Other Operations business segment consists of five business units, which in aggregate accounted for approximately 10% of sales in each of the fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013. The primary products produced and/or supplied are carbon dioxide, dry ice (carbon dioxide in solid form), nitrous oxide, ammonia and refrigerant gases. The following sections describe the primary products offered by the Company through the business units within the All Other Operations business segment in further detail.
Carbon Dioxide & Dry Ice
Airgas is a leading U.S. producer of liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice. Customers for carbon dioxide and dry ice include food processors, food service businesses, various businesses in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and wholesale trade and grocery outlets, with food and beverage applications accounting for approximately 70% of the market. Some seasonality is experienced within these businesses, as the Company generally experiences a higher level of sales during the warmer months. With 14 dry ice plants (converting liquid carbon dioxide into dry ice), Airgas has the largest network of dry ice conversion plants in the U.S. Additionally, Airgas operates eight liquid carbon dioxide production facilities. The Company’s carbon dioxide production capacity is supplemented by take-or-pay supply contracts with other regional and national liquid carbon dioxide producers.
Nitrous Oxide
Airgas is the largest producer of nitrous oxide gas in the U.S. through its three nitrous oxide production facilities. Nitrous oxide is used as an anesthetic in the medical and dental fields, as a propellant in the packaged food industry and in certain manufacturing processes in the electronics industry. The raw materials utilized in nitrous oxide production are purchased under contracts with major manufacturers and suppliers.
Ammonia Products
Airgas is a leading U.S. distributor of anhydrous and aqua ammonia. Industrial ammonia applications primarily include the abatement of nitrogen oxide compounds (“DeNOx”) in the utilities industry, chemicals processing, commercial refrigeration, water treatment and metal treatment. The Company operates 29 distribution facilities across the U.S. and purchases ammonia from suppliers under agreements.
Refrigerants
Refrigerants are used in a wide variety of commercial and consumer freezing and cooling applications. Airgas purchases and distributes refrigerants and provides technical and refrigerant reclamation services. The primary focus of the refrigerants business is on the sale, distribution and reclamation of refrigerants, with a varied customer base that includes small and large HVAC contractors and distributors, facility owners, transportation companies, manufacturing facilities and government agencies. The refrigerants business typically experiences some seasonality, with higher sales levels during the warmer months as well as during the March and April time frame in preparation for the cooling season.
AIRGAS GROWTH STRATEGIES
The Company’s primary objective is to maximize shareholder value by: driving market-leading sales growth through product and service offerings that leverage the Company’s infrastructure, technical expertise, and diverse customer base; executing on strategic organic growth initiatives; pursuing acquisitions in the Company’s core distribution business and in adjacent lines of business to increase customer density; providing outstanding customer service; and improving operational efficiencies. To meet this objective, the Company is focused on the following:
alignment of the sales and marketing organization with key customer segments, particularly within the strategic accounts program, to provide leadership and support throughout all sales channels in tailoring the Company’s broad product and service offerings to the unique needs of each customer segment;

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leveraging all sales channels, including branch-based sales representatives, product and industry specialists, retail stores, the strategic accounts program, telesales, catalogs, e-Business and independent distributors;
fully deploying the new District Manager structure to drive local sales and branch operations accountability, enhance depth of customer relationships, continuously improve transaction accuracy, and increase speed to deliver exceptional customer service through the Districts;
enhancing the effectiveness of the field-based sales organization through improved sales management disciplines at the District and branch levels;
driving customer adoption of the Company’s new Airgas.com e-Business platform;
strategic products, which have strong growth profiles due to favorable customer segments, application development, increasing environmental regulation, strong cross-selling opportunities, or a combination thereof (e.g., bulk gases, specialty gases, medical products, carbon dioxide/dry ice and safety products);
leveraging the Company’s recently implemented enterprise information system (“SAP”) by capturing strategic pricing benefits, expanding the Airgas Total Access™ telesales platform, maximizing cylinder production and utilization, developing key metrics, analytics and tools for continuous improvement, optimizing sales channels and maximizing hardgoods and packaged gas distribution efficiencies;
effective utilization of the Company’s divisional operating structure and Business Support Centers (“BSCs”) to leverage the full benefits of the SAP platform, maximize back-office efficiencies and streamline customer relationship management;
reducing costs associated with production, cylinder maintenance and distribution logistics; and
add density through acquisitions and growing share to complement and expand its business and to leverage its significant national platform.
ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS
The Company is subject to federal and state laws and regulations adopted for the protection of the environment and the health and safety of employees and users of the Company’s products. The Company has programs for the design and operation of its facilities to achieve compliance with applicable environmental regulations. The Company believes that it is in compliance, in all material respects, with such laws and regulations. Expenditures for environmental compliance purposes during fiscal 2015 were not material.
INSURANCE
The Company has established insurance programs to cover workers’ compensation, business automobile and general liability claims. During fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013, these programs had deductible limits of $1 million per occurrence and costs related to the programs were approximately 0.5% of sales during each of these years. For fiscal year 2016, the deductible limits are expected to remain at $1 million per occurrence. The Company accrues estimated losses using actuarial methods and assumptions based on the Company’s historical loss experience.
EMPLOYEES
As of March 31, 2015, the Company employed approximately 17,000 associates. Less than 5% of the Company’s associates were covered by collective bargaining agreements. The Company believes it has good relations with its employees and has not experienced a significant strike or work stoppage in over ten years.
PATENTS, TRADEMARKS AND LICENSES
The Company holds the following trademarks and service marks: “Airgas,” “National Carbonation,” “Airgas National Carbonation,” “Airgas N2IceCream,” “Airgas Total Access,” “Airgas Retail Solutions,” “AcuGrav,” “AIR BOSS,” “Aspen,” “Aspen Refrigerants,” “Any Refrigerant, Any Place, Any Time,” “For All Your Refrigerant Needs,” “Radnor,” “Gold Gas,” “SteelMIX,” “StainMIX,” “AluMIX,” “OUTLOOK,” “Ny-Trous+,” “Red-D-Arc,” “RED-D-ARC WELDERENTALS,” “Gaspro,” “GAIN,” “MasterCut,” “Walk- O2 -Bout,” “Airgas Puritan Medical,” “Penguin Brand Dry Ice,” “Kangaroo Kart,” “National Farm and Shop,” “National/HEF,” “UNAMIX,” “UNAMIG Xtra,” “UNAMIG Six,” “FreezeRight,” “Reklaim,” “Refrigatron,” “RelEye,” “Safe-T-Cyl,” “StatusChecker,” “Smart-Logic,” “When You’re Ready To Weld,” “WelderHelper,” “Your Total Ammonia Solution,” “You’ll find it with us,” “Worry-Free Carbonation,” “Refreshingly Easy,” “QuartzSight,” “Saffire,” and “Panzer.” Additionally, the Company has registered U.S. Pat. No. 5,622,644.
The Company believes that its businesses as a whole are not materially dependent upon any single patent, trademark or license.

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EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE COMPANY
The executive officers of the Company are as follows:
Name
Age
Position
Peter McCausland
65
Executive Chairman of the Board
Michael L. Molinini
64
President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
Robert M. McLaughlin
58
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Andrew R. Cichocki
52
Senior Vice President - Airgas, Inc. and President - Airgas USA, LLC
Robert A. Dougherty
57
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Leslie J. Graff
54
Senior Vice President - Corporate Development
Ronald J. Stark
51
Senior Vice President - Sales and Marketing
Pamela J. Claypool
61
Senior Vice President - Human Resources
Robert H. Young, Jr.
64
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
R. Jay Worley
46
Senior Vice President - Distribution Operations
Douglas L. Jones
59
Division President - West
Terry L. Lodge
58
Division President - Central
B. Shaun Powers
63
Division President - North
Charles E. Broadus, Jr.
48
Division President - South
Thomas S. Thoman
52
Division President - Gases Production
Thomas M. Smyth (1)
61
Vice President and Controller
 
____________________
(1)     Mr. Smyth serves as the Company’s Principal Accounting Officer, but he is not an executive officer.
Mr. McCausland has been Executive Chairman of the Board since August 2012. He previously served as Chairman of the Board from 1987 to September 2010 and from August 2011 to August 2012. Mr. McCausland also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Airgas from May 1987 to August 2012 and President of Airgas from June 1986 to August 1988, from April 1993 to November 1995, from April 1997 to January 1999 and from January 2005 to August 2012. Mr. McCausland serves as a director of the Independence Seaport Museum. Mr. McCausland also serves on the Board of Visitors of the Boston University School of Law and the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of South Carolina.
Mr. Molinini has been President, Chief Executive Officer and Director since August 2012. Prior to that time, Mr. Molinini served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from January 2005 to August 2012, Senior Vice President - Hardgoods Operations from August 1999 to January 2005 and as Vice President - Airgas Direct Industrial from April 1997 to July 1999. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Molinini served as Vice President of Marketing of National Welders Supply Company, Inc. (“National Welders”) from 1991 to 1997.
Mr. McLaughlin has been Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since October 2006 and served as Vice President and Controller from the time he joined Airgas in June 2001 to September 2006. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. McLaughlin served as Vice President Finance for Asbury Automotive Group from 1999 to 2001, and was a Vice President and held various senior financial positions at Unisource Worldwide, Inc. from 1992 to 1999. Mr. McLaughlin also serves on the Board of Directors of Axalta Coating Systems Ltd.
Mr. Cichocki was named Senior Vice President - Airgas, Inc. effective August 2014 and President - Airgas USA, LLC effective April 2014. Airgas USA, LLC accounts for the majority of the Company’s consolidated net sales. Mr. Cichocki previously served as Senior Vice President - Distribution Operations and Business Process Improvement from August 2011 through March 2014. From July 2008 to July 2011, he was Division President - Process Gases and Chemicals. Prior to that time, Mr. Cichocki served as President of Airgas National Welders and Airgas’ joint venture, National Welders, from 2003. Prior to that, Mr. Cichocki served in key corporate roles for Airgas, including Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Senior Vice President of Business Operations and Planning, and for ten years as Vice President of Corporate Development.
Mr. Dougherty has been Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer since joining Airgas in January 2001. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Dougherty served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer from 1998 to 2000 and as Director of Information Systems from 1993 to 1998 at Subaru of America, Inc.
Mr. Graff has been Senior Vice President - Corporate Development since August 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Graff held various management positions since joining the Company in 1989, including Director of Corporate Finance, Director of Corporate Development, Assistant Vice President - Corporate Development and Vice President - Corporate Development. He has directed the in-house acquisition department since 2001. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Graff worked for KPMG LLP from 1983 to 1989.

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Mr. Stark was named Senior Vice President - Sales and Marketing in July 2009 and previously served as President, Airgas North Central, since joining Airgas in 2003. Mr. Stark began his career at Union Carbide - Linde Division (now Praxair) in 1985 and advanced through a series of positions in applications engineering and key account management. In 1992, he joined MVE, a Minnesota-based supplier of cryogenic storage and distribution technology, and advanced to vice president and general manager of the industrial gases market. After Chart Industries acquired MVE in 1999, Mr. Stark became president of Chart’s Distribution and Storage Group and held that post until joining Airgas.
Ms. Claypool was named Senior Vice President - Human Resources in December 2013. Ms. Claypool previously served as Vice President - Talent Management for Airgas and as Vice President - Human Resources for Airgas’ North Division. She joined Airgas in 2007 with the acquisition of Linde’s U.S. packaged gas business, serving as Vice President of Finance and then Chief Financial Officer for Airgas Great Lakes, Inc. Prior to joining Airgas, Ms. Claypool spent three years in Linde’s U.S. group where she was responsible for business and financial analysis and sales compensation, and fourteen years with Commercial Intertech in multiple finance and management roles. In August 2015, Ms. Claypool will assume the role of Division President - North, following the retirement of the current Division President - North, Mr. Powers.
Mr. Young has been Senior Vice President and General Counsel since October 2007. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Young was a shareholder of McCausland Keen & Buckman, which he joined in 1985, and served as outside counsel for the Company on many acquisitions and other corporate legal matters. At McCausland Keen & Buckman, Mr. Young focused his practice on general corporate law for both public and private corporations, mergers and acquisitions, and venture capital financing. Mr. Young began his legal career as an attorney at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia.
Mr. Worley has served as Senior Vice President - Distribution Operations since February 2015. Prior to that, Mr. Worley served as Vice President - Strategic Pricing since the inception of Airgas’ strategic pricing program in January 2012, and as President of Airgas National Carbonation since October 2013. Previously, Mr. Worley held the position of Vice President - Communications and Investor Relations for Airgas from July 2008 to December 2011, as Director - Investor Relations from 2006 until July 2008 and as Chief Financial Officer of Airgas Southwest from 2001 until 2006.  Mr. Worley began his career at Airgas in 1993 as Assistant Controller with what is now Airgas Intermountain and held a variety of roles in that organization, including in sales and human resources.
Mr. Jones has been Division President - West since April 2013. Prior to this role, Mr. Jones was President of Airgas Intermountain from 2006 to April 2013, Vice President of Sales and Marketing from 2001 to 2006 and Director of Marketing from 1998 to 2001. Mr. Jones has served the Company in various other roles since joining Airgas in 1989 through the acquisition of Utah Welders Supply.
Mr. Lodge has been Division President - Central since July 2011. Prior to that time, Mr. Lodge was President of Airgas Mid South from November 2007, Vice President - Western Division from January 2005 to November 2007 and CFO for Airgas Mid South from August 1994 to January 2005. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Lodge was the CFO for The Jimmie Jones Company, an independent distributor acquired by Airgas in 1994 where he originally started his career in the industrial gas industry in 1979.
Mr. Powers has been Division President - North since July 2011. Prior to that time, Mr. Powers was Division President - East since joining Airgas in April 2001. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Powers served as Senior Vice President of Industrial Gases at Linde from October 1995 to March 2001. Mr. Powers has more than 30 years of experience in the industrial gas industry. After a long and successful career, Mr. Powers has announced his retirement effective August 2015. Following Mr. Powers retirement, Ms. Claypool will assume the role of Division President - North.
Mr. Broadus was named Division President - South in July 2013. In February 2015, while continuing to lead the South Division, Mr. Broadus assumed expanded responsibility for Red-D-Arc Welderentals and Airgas On-site Safety Services (AOSS). Mr. Broadus joined Airgas in 2003 as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the West region. He was named President - Airgas Specialty Products in 2006 and took over as President - Airgas Refrigerants in 2008. In 2011, Mr. Broadus was named President - Airgas South region, serving in this role through June 2013. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Broadus was Marketing Director for Reliant Energy in Houston for three years and spent seven years in various operations and sales roles with BOC Gases.
Mr. Thoman has been Division President - Gases Production since July 2011. Prior to that time, Mr. Thoman served as Senior Vice President - Tonnage and Merchant Gases and President - Airgas Merchant Gases since 2007. Leading up to that time, Mr. Thoman served in key corporate roles including Vice President - Gases, which focused on the Company’s gases supply chains, product sourcing, marketing, product management and business development. He has been with Airgas nearly 12 years and in the industrial gas industry for 24 years.
Mr. Smyth has been Vice President and Controller since November 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Smyth served as Director of Internal Audit since joining Airgas in February 2001 and became Vice President in August 2004. Prior to joining Airgas, Mr. Smyth served in internal audit, controller and chief accounting roles at Philadelphia Gas Works from 1997 to 2001. Prior to

9


that, Mr. Smyth spent 12 years with Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, in a variety of internal audit and general management roles and in similar positions during eight years at Amtrak.
COMPANY INFORMATION
The Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) are available free of charge on the Company’s website (www.airgas.com) under the “Financial Information” link in the “Investor Relations” section. The Company makes these documents available as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed with or furnished to the SEC, but no later than the end of the day that they are filed with or furnished to the SEC.
Code of Ethics and Business Conduct
The Company has adopted a Code of Ethics and Business Conduct applicable to its employees, officers and directors. The Code of Ethics and Business Conduct is available on the Company’s website, under the “Corporate Governance” link in the “Investor Relations” section. Amendments to and waivers from the Code of Ethics and Business Conduct will also be disclosed promptly on the website. In addition, stockholders may request a printed copy of the Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, free of charge, by contacting the Company’s Investor Relations department at:
Airgas, Inc.
Attention: Investor Relations
259 N. Radnor-Chester Rd.
Radnor, PA 19087-5283
Telephone: (866) 816-4618
Email: investors@airgas.com
Corporate Governance Guidelines
The Company has Corporate Governance Guidelines as well as charters for its Audit Committee, Finance Committee and Governance & Compensation Committee. These documents are available on the Company’s website, noted above. Stockholders may also request a copy of these documents, free of charge, by contacting the Company’s Investor Relations department at the address and phone number noted above.
Certifications
The Company has filed certifications of its Executive Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer pursuant to Sections 302 and 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 as exhibits to its Annual Report on Form 10-K for each of the years ended March 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013.


10


ITEM 1A.
RISK FACTORS.
In addition to risk factors discussed in MD&A under “Critical Accounting Estimates” and elsewhere in this report, we believe the following, which have not been sequenced in any particular order, are the most significant risks related to our business that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
We face risks related to general economic conditions, which may impact the demand for and supply of our products and our results of operations.
Demand for our products depends in part on the general economic conditions affecting the United States and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the world. Although our diverse product offering and customer base help provide some stability to our business in difficult times, a broad decline in general economic conditions or changes in other external factors including the price of commodities, such as crude oil, could result in customers postponing capital projects and could negatively impact the demand for our products and services as well as our customers’ ability to fulfill their obligations to us. The impact of a strong U.S. dollar on domestic customers that export could reduce their production activity and reduce demand for our products. Additionally, the strong U.S. dollar could give rise to higher imports, reducing domestic production. In addition, falling demand could lead to lower sales volumes, lower pricing and/or lower profit margins. It could also impact our ability to fulfill our volume purchase obligations under take-or-pay supply agreements, resulting in lower profit margins. A protracted period of lower product demand and profitability could result in diminished values for both tangible and intangible assets, increasing the possibility of future impairment charges. Further, suppliers could be impacted by an economic downturn, which could impact their ability to fulfill their obligations to us. If economic conditions deteriorate, our operating profit, financial condition and cash flows could be adversely affected.
Our financial results may be adversely affected by gas supply disruptions and supply/demand imbalances.
We are one of the nation’s leading suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases and have supply contracts with the major gas producers. Additionally, we operate 16 air separation units, 11 acetylene plants and eight liquid carbon dioxide production facilities, which provide us with substantial production capacity. Our supply contracts and our own production capacity mitigate supply disruptions to various degrees. However, natural disasters, plant shut-downs, labor strikes and other supply disruptions may occur within our industry. Regional supply disruptions may create shortages of raw materials and certain products. Consequently, we may not be able to obtain the products required to meet our customers’ demands or may incur significant costs to ship product from other regions of the country to meet customer requirements. Such additional costs may adversely impact operating results until product sourcing can be restored. When we experience supply shortages, we work to meet customer demand by arranging for alternative supplies and transporting product into an affected region, but we cannot guarantee that we will be successful in arranging alternative product supplies or passing the additional transportation or other costs on to customers in the event of future supply disruptions, which could negatively impact our operations, financial results or liquidity.
Supply and demand imbalances in the marketplace may adversely impact our results of operations. Volumes and pricing for our refrigerants business were pressured following the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) ruling in March 2013 that allowed for an increase in the production and import of Refrigerant-22 (“R-22”) in calendar years 2013 and 2014, resulting in a greater-than-expected availability of virgin R-22 in the marketplace. In October 2014, the EPA posted its final calendar year 2015 to 2019 allocation rule pertaining to allowances for virgin production and consumption of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (“HCFCs”), including R-22. The final rule provided clarity on the pace and magnitude of the reduction in allowable production of R-22 for the calendar year 2015 to 2019 time period, beginning with an approximately 60% reduction for calendar year 2015 and ending with a final ban on all production effective January 1, 2020. There is uncertainty as to how the final ruling will impact the market dynamics in the near-term, as the market sheds the excess inventory that has accumulated throughout the supply chain since the previous EPA ruling in March 2013. A protracted period of lower product demand and profitability as a result of near-term uncertainty in the market based on the excess inventory build-up, as well as the pace and extent of marketplace migration toward the use of reclaimed product, could have an adverse impact on the financial results of our refrigerants business and result in diminished values for both tangible and intangible assets related to this business, increasing the possibility of future impairment charges.
Interruptions in the proper functioning of our information systems could disrupt business and operational activities.
We rely on information systems for business and operational activities, including the processing and storage of proprietary and sensitive information. These systems are susceptible to disruptions as a result of events such as fires, natural disasters, hardware and software failures, network outages, power disruptions, and other problems. Although we maintain data center and network resiliency and recovery capabilities for our critical systems, interruptions in the proper functioning of these systems could adversely impact our ability to process orders, shipments, inventory receipts, vendor payments, and accounts receivable collections - any of which could negatively impact our operations or financial results.

11


Breaches of our information systems and e-Business platform could adversely impact our reputation, disrupt operations, and result in increased costs and loss of revenue.
Information security risks and threats have increased in recent years as a result of the interconnectedness of the systems, networks, and e-Business platform used to conduct business with our customers, suppliers and other third parties. Our business is also subject to complex and evolving U.S. and foreign laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection and other matters. Despite maintaining and continuously improving our technologies and processes to mitigate these risks and comply with laws and regulations, sophisticated cyberattacks and security breaches could compromise our systems and data. Such events could expose us to reputational damage, business disruptions, regulatory and legal actions, and claims from customers, suppliers, financial institutions, and employees - any of which could have a material adverse impact to our financial condition and results of operations.
Catastrophic events and operating failures may disrupt our business and adversely affect our operating results.
Although our operations are widely distributed across the U.S., and safety is a primary focus in all we do, we manage and distribute hazardous materials and a catastrophic event could result in significant property losses, injuries and third-party claims. Examples of such events include, but are not limited to, the following: a fire, explosion or release of hazardous materials at one of our facilities, a supplier’s facility or a customer’s facility; a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, tornado or earthquake; and an operating failure at one of our facilities or in connection with the delivery of our products. Additionally, such events may severely impact our regional customer base and supply sources resulting in lost revenues, higher product costs and increased bad debts.
Operational and execution risks may adversely impact our financial results.
Our operating results are reliant on the continued operation of our production and distribution facilities and delivery fleet, as well as our ability to meet customer requirements. Inherent in our operations are risks that require continuous oversight and control, such as risks related to mechanical failure, fire, explosion, toxic releases and vehicle accidents. We have policies, procedures and safety protocols in place requiring continuous training, oversight and control in order to address these risks to our operations. However, significant operating failures at our production, distribution or storage facilities, or vehicle transportation accidents, could result in loss of life, loss of production or distribution capabilities, and/or damage to the environment, thereby adversely impacting our operations and financial results. These factors could subject us to lost sales, litigation contingencies and reputational risk.
U.S. credit markets may impact our ability to obtain financing or increase the cost of future financing.
As of March 31, 2015, we had total consolidated debt of approximately $2.3 billion, which had an average length to maturity of approximately four years and includes $250 million of long-term debt obligations maturing during the year ending March 31, 2016. During periods of volatility and disruption in the U.S. credit markets, obtaining additional or replacement financing may be more difficult and costly. Higher cost of new debt may limit our ability to finance future acquisitions on terms that are acceptable to us. Additionally, although we actively manage our interest rate risk through the use of diversified debt obligations and occasionally, derivative instruments, approximately 30% of our debt has a variable interest rate. If interest rates increase, our interest expense could increase, affecting earnings and reducing cash flows available for working capital, capital expenditures and acquisitions. Based on our outstanding borrowings at March 31, 2015, for every 25 basis point increase in our average variable borrowing rates, we estimate that our annual interest expense would increase by approximately $1.7 million.
Finally, our cost of borrowing can be affected by debt ratings assigned by independent rating agencies which are based in large part on our performance as measured by certain liquidity metrics. An adverse change in these debt ratings could increase the cost of borrowing and make it more difficult to obtain financing on favorable terms.
We operate in a highly competitive environment and such competition could negatively impact us.
The U.S. industrial gas industry operates in a highly competitive environment. Competition is generally based on price, reliable product delivery, product availability, technical support, quality and service. If we are unable to compete effectively with our competitors, we may suffer lower revenue and/or a loss of customers, which could result in lower profits and adversely affect our financial condition and cash flows.
Volatility in product and energy costs could reduce our profitability.
The cost of industrial gases represents a significant percentage of our operating costs. The production of industrial gases requires significant amounts of electric energy. Therefore, industrial gas prices have historically increased as the cost of electric power increases. Price increases for oil and natural gas have historically resulted in electric power surcharges. Severe weather conditions, such as those experienced across much of the U.S. during the two most recent winter seasons, can adversely impact both our sales and expenses, and cause an imbalance in the timing and extent to which we can recoup those costs from our customers. In addition, a significant portion of our distribution expenses consists of fuel costs. Energy prices can be volatile and

12


may rise in the future, resulting in an increase in the cost of industrial gases and/or the cost to distribute them. While we have historically been able to pass increases in the cost of our products and operating expenses on to our customers, we cannot guarantee our ability to do so in the future, which could negatively impact our operations, financial results or liquidity.
We may not be successful in integrating acquisitions and achieving intended benefits and synergies.
We have successfully integrated more than 450 acquisitions in our history and consider the acquisition and integration of businesses to be a core competency. However, the process of integrating acquired businesses into our operations may result in unexpected operating difficulties and may require significant financial and other resources. Unexpected difficulties may impair our ability to achieve targeted synergies or planned operating results, which could diminish the value of acquired tangible and intangible assets resulting in future impairment charges. Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including:
acquired companies may not have internal control structures appropriate for a larger public company resulting in a need for significant revisions;
acquired operations, information systems and products may be difficult to integrate;
acquired operations may not achieve targeted synergies;
we may not be able to retain key employees, customers and business relationships of acquired companies; and
our management team may have its attention and resources diverted from ongoing operations.
We depend on our key personnel to manage our business effectively and they may be difficult to replace.
Our performance substantially depends on the efforts and abilities of our senior management team and key employees. Furthermore, much of our competitive advantage is based on the expertise, experience and know-how of our key personnel regarding our distribution infrastructure, systems and products. The loss of key employees could have a negative effect on our business, revenues, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to litigation and reputational risk as a result of the nature of our business, which may have a material adverse effect on our business.
From time-to-time, we are involved in lawsuits that arise from our business. Litigation may, for example, relate to product liability claims, personal injury, property damage, vehicle accidents, regulatory issues, contract disputes or employment matters. The occurrence of any of these matters could also create possible damage to our reputation and our operations. The defense and ultimate outcome of lawsuits against us may result in higher operating expenses. Higher operating expenses or reputational damage could have a material adverse effect on our business, including to our liquidity, results of operations or financial condition.
We have established insurance programs with significant deductibles and maximum coverage limits which could result in the recognition of significant losses.
We maintain insurance coverage for workers’ compensation, business automobile and general liability claims with significant per claim deductibles. In the past, we have incurred significant workers’ compensation, business automobile and general liability losses. Such losses could impact our profitability. Additionally, claims in excess of our insurance limits could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.
We are subject to extensive government regulation relating to health, safety and environmental matters, as well as anti-corruption laws that generate ongoing compliance costs and could subject us to liability.
We are subject to laws and regulations relating to health, safety and the protection of the environment and natural resources, as well as regulations related to social policy. These include, among other things, reporting on chemical inventories and risk management plans, and management of hazardous substances and wastes, air emissions and water discharges. More recently, we have examined our supply chain with respect to certain products we manufacture or contract to manufacture as a result of new regulations around the use of conflict minerals. Violations of existing laws and enactment of future legislation and regulations could result in substantial penalties, temporary or permanent plant closures, restrictions on our operations caused by the temporary or permanent loss of our licenses and other legal consequences, as well as reputational and other risks. Moreover, the nature of our existing and historical operations exposes us to the risk of liabilities to third parties. These potential claims include property damage, personal injuries and cleanup obligations. See Item 1, “Environmental Matters” for additional details.
The issue of greenhouse gas emissions has been subject to increased scrutiny and public awareness, and may result in legislation, both internationally and in the U.S., to reduce its effects. Increased regulation of greenhouse gas emissions could impose additional costs on us, both directly through new compliance and reporting requirements as well as indirectly through increased industrial gas and energy costs. Until such time as any new legislation is passed, it will remain unclear as to what industries would be impacted, the period of time within which compliance would be required, the significance of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the costs of compliance. Although we do not believe that increased greenhouse gas

13


emissions regulation will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity, we cannot provide assurance that such costs will not increase in the future or will not become material.
Although our operations are predominantly in the United States, we conduct operations internationally in Canada, Mexico, Russia, Dubai and several European countries. Our international operations are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption laws and regulations, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anti-corruption laws of the various jurisdictions in which we operate. We maintain policies and procedures designed to comply with anti-corruption laws. However, there can be no guarantee that these policies and procedures will effectively prevent violations by our employees or representatives in the future.
ITEM 1B.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.
None.
ITEM 2.
PROPERTIES.
The Company operates in all 50 U.S. states and in Canada, Mexico, Russia, Dubai and several European countries. The principal executive offices of the Company are located in leased space in Radnor, Pennsylvania.
The Company’s Distribution business segment operates a network of multiple use facilities consisting of approximately 900 branches, approximately 300 cylinder fill plants, 70 regional specialty gas laboratories, 11 national specialty gas laboratories, one research and development center, two specialty gas equipment centers, 11 acetylene plants and 16 air separation units, as well as six national hardgoods distribution centers, various customer call centers, buying centers and administrative offices. The Distribution business segment conducts business in all 50 states and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Russia, Dubai and several European countries. The Company owns approximately 46% of these facilities. The remaining facilities are primarily leased from unrelated third parties. A limited number of facilities are leased from employees, generally former owners of acquired businesses, and are on terms consistent with commercial rental rates prevailing in the surrounding rental markets.
The Company’s network of 16 air separation units that it owns and operates supports the Company’s full range of gas supply modes for its customers, making Airgas the fifth-largest producer of atmospheric gases in the U.S. During fiscal 2015, capacity utilization at the Company’s air separation units was approximately 80%, with additional capacity available upon demand. The Company is currently in the planning or construction phases for an additional four air separation units as well as a liquid hydrogen plant, all of which are expected to be on-stream at various points through calendar year 2017.
The Company’s All Other Operations business segment consists of businesses located throughout the U.S., which operate multiple use facilities consisting of approximately 75 branch/distribution locations, eight liquid carbon dioxide and 14 dry ice production facilities, and three nitrous oxide production facilities. The Company owns approximately 35% of these facilities. The remaining facilities are leased from unrelated third parties.
The Company believes that its facilities are adequate for its present needs and that its properties are generally in good condition, well-maintained and suitable for their intended use.
ITEM 3.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.
The Company is involved in various legal and regulatory proceedings that have arisen in the ordinary course of business and have not been fully adjudicated. These actions, when ultimately concluded and determined, will not, in the opinion of management, have a material adverse effect upon the Company’s consolidated financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.
ITEM 4.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES.
Not applicable.


PART II
ITEM 5.
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES.
Market Information, Dividends and Holders

14


The Company’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: ARG). The following table sets forth, for each quarter during the last two fiscal years, the high and low closing price per share for the common stock as reported by the New York Stock Exchange and cash dividends per share for the period from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2015:
 
 
High
 
Low
 
Dividends Per Share
Fiscal 2015
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
109.95

 
$
102.35

 
$
0.55

Second Quarter
113.19

 
106.78

 
0.55

Third Quarter
117.98

 
103.55

 
0.55

Fourth Quarter
118.90

 
103.89

 
0.55

 
 
 
 
 
 
Fiscal 2014
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
103.98

 
$
93.91

 
$
0.48

Second Quarter
106.98

 
96.30

 
0.48

Third Quarter
112.24

 
105.79

 
0.48

Fourth Quarter
112.49

 
100.17

 
0.48

The closing sale price of the Company’s common stock on May 22, 2015, as reported by the New York Stock Exchange, was $104.27 per share. As of May 22, 2015, there were 296 stockholders of record, a number that by definition does not count those who hold the Company’s stock in street name including the many employee owners under the Airgas Employee Stock Purchase Plan.
On April 7, 2015, the Company announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.60 per share, which is payable on June 30, 2015 to stockholders of record as of June 15, 2015. Future dividend declarations and associated amounts paid will depend upon the Company’s earnings, financial condition, loan covenants, capital requirements and other factors deemed relevant by management and the Company’s Board of Directors.
Stockholder Return Performance Presentation
Below is a graph comparing the yearly change in the cumulative total stockholder return on the Company’s common stock against the cumulative total return of the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Chemicals Index for the five-year period that began April 1, 2010 and ended March 31, 2015.
The Company believes the use of the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Chemicals Index for purposes of this performance comparison is appropriate because Airgas is a component of the indices and they include companies of similar size to Airgas.

15



 
March 31,
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
l
Airgas, Inc.
100.00
106.04

144.45

163.91

179.32

182.24

n
S&P 500 Index
100.00
115.65

125.52

143.05

174.31

196.51

Å
S&P 500 Chemicals
100.00
127.84

135.55

154.71

201.16

215.49

The graph above assumes that $100 was invested on April 1, 2010 in Airgas, Inc. common stock, the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Chemicals Index and that all dividends have been reinvested.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
During the three months ended March 31, 2015, the Company acquired the following shares of its common stock:
Period
 
(a)


Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
 
(b)


Average Price Paid per Share
 
(c) Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Programs
 
(d) Maximum Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Programs
1/1/15 - 1/31/15
 

 

 

 

2/1/15 - 2/28/15
 
8,943

 
$
117.08

 

 

3/1/15 - 3/31/15
 

 

 

 

Total
 
8,943

 
$
117.08

 

 
 
____________________
(1)
Consists of shares that were delivered or attested to upon the exercise of stock options by participants of the Company’s equity incentive plan in satisfaction of the payment of the exercise of stock options under the plan. During the three months ended March 31, 2015, the Company acquired 8,943 shares of its common stock with an average fair market value per share of $117.08 for the exercise of 24,000 stock options.


16


ITEM 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA.
Selected financial data for the Company is presented in the following table and should be read in conjunction with MD&A included in Item 7 and the Company’s consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in Item 8.
 
Years Ended March 31,
(In thousands, except per share amounts):
2015
 
2014 (1)
 
2013 (2)
 
2012 (3)
 
2011 (4)
Operating Results:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
5,304,885

 
$
5,072,537

 
$
4,957,497

 
$
4,746,283

 
$
4,251,467

Depreciation and amortization
$
329,058

 
$
305,306

 
$
288,900

 
$
270,285

 
$
250,518

Operating income
$
641,278

 
$
630,534

 
$
596,417

 
$
556,221

 
$
469,191

Interest expense, net
62,232

 
73,698

 
67,494

 
66,337

 
60,054

Losses on the extinguishment of debt

 
9,150

 

 

 
4,162

Other income (expense), net
5,075

 
4,219

 
14,494

 
2,282

 
1,958

Income taxes
216,035

 
201,121

 
202,543

 
178,792

 
156,669

Net earnings
$
368,086

 
$
350,784

 
$
340,874

 
$
313,374

 
$
250,264

Net Earnings Per Common Share:
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Basic earnings per share
$
4.93

 
$
4.76

 
$
4.45

 
$
4.09

 
$
3.00

Diluted earnings per share
$
4.85

 
$
4.68

 
$
4.35

 
$
4.00

 
$
2.94

Dividends per common share declared and paid (5)
$
2.20

 
$
1.92

 
$
1.60

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.01

Balance Sheet and Other Data at March 31:
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Working capital
$
286,637

 
$
68,312

 
$
602,116

 
$
344,157

 
$
566,015

Total assets
5,973,610

 
5,793,314

 
5,618,225

 
5,320,585

 
4,945,754

Short-term debt
325,871

 
387,866

 

 
388,452

 

Current portion of long-term debt
250,110

 
400,322

 
303,573

 
10,385

 
9,868

Long-term debt, excluding current portion
1,748,662

 
1,706,774

 
2,304,245

 
1,761,902

 
1,842,994

Non-current deferred income tax liability, net
854,574

 
825,897

 
825,612

 
793,957

 
726,797

Other non-current liabilities
89,741

 
89,219

 
89,671

 
84,419

 
70,548

Stockholders’ equity
2,151,586

 
1,840,649

 
1,536,983

 
1,750,258

 
1,740,912

Capital expenditures for years ended March 31,
468,789

 
354,587

 
325,465

 
356,514

 
256,030

____________________
(1) 
The results for fiscal 2014 include the following: $9.1 million ($5.6 million after tax) or $0.08 per diluted share recorded for a loss on the early extinguishment of the Company’s $215 million of 7.125% senior subordinated notes, which were originally due to mature in October 2018 but were redeemed in full on October 2, 2013, as well as $3.3 million or $0.04 per diluted share of state income tax benefits recognized for changes to enacted state income tax rates and a change in a state income tax law. The Company has used proceeds from the commercial paper program for general corporate purposes, including the early redemption of the senior subordinated notes and repayment of its $300 million 2.85% senior notes upon their maturity in October 2013, causing the $388 million increase to short-term debt. In addition, the Company reclassified its $400 million 4.5% senior notes maturing in September 2014 to the “Current portion of long-term debt” line item of the Company’s consolidated balance sheet based on the maturity date.
(2) 
The results for fiscal 2013 include the following: $8.1 million ($5.1 million after tax) or $0.07 per diluted share of net restructuring and other special charges and $6.8 million ($5.5 million after tax) or a benefit of $0.07 per diluted share of a gain on the sale of five branch locations in western Canada. The $6.8 million gain on sale of businesses was recorded in the “Other income, net” line item of the Company’s consolidated statement of earnings. Also during fiscal 2013, the Company’s $300 million 2.85% notes were reclassified to the “Current portion of long-term debt” line item of the Company’s consolidated balance sheet based on the maturity date. Additionally, during the three months ended March 31, 2013, proceeds from the issuance of an aggregate $600 million of senior notes in February 2013 were used to pay down the balance on the commercial paper program and as a result, there were no outstanding borrowings under the program at March 31, 2013, resulting in a decrease to short-term debt and an increase in working capital in the table above.

17


(3) 
The results for fiscal 2012 include the following: $24.4 million ($15.6 million after tax) or $0.19 per diluted share of net restructuring and other special charges, $7.9 million ($5.0 million after tax) or $0.06 per diluted share in benefits from lower than previously estimated net costs related to a prior year unsolicited takeover attempt, $4.3 million ($2.7 million after tax) or $0.04 per diluted share in multi-employer pension plan withdrawal charges, and $4.9 million or $0.06 per diluted share of income tax benefits related to the LLC reorganization as well as a true-up of the Company’s foreign tax liabilities. Additionally, during fiscal 2012, the Company commenced a $750 million commercial paper program supported by its revolving credit facility. The Company has used proceeds under the commercial paper program to pay down amounts outstanding under its revolving credit facility and for general corporate purposes. Borrowings under the commercial paper program are classified as short-term debt on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet, which led to a $388 million decrease in both working capital and long-term debt in the table above.
(4) 
The results for fiscal 2011 include $44.4 million ($28.0 million after tax) or $0.33 per diluted share in costs related to an unsolicited takeover attempt and $4.6 million ($2.8 million after tax) or $0.03 per diluted share in multi-employer pension plan withdrawal charges. Also included in the results for fiscal 2011 are a charge of $4.2 million ($2.6 million after tax) or $0.03 per diluted share for the early extinguishment of debt and a one-time interest penalty of $2.6 million ($1.7 million after tax) or $0.02 per diluted share related to the late removal of the restrictive legend on the Company’s 7.125% senior subordinated notes.
(5)  
The Company’s quarterly cash dividends paid to stockholders for the years presented above are disclosed in the following table:
 
Years Ended March 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
2011
First Quarter
$
0.55

 
$
0.48

 
$
0.40

 
$
0.29

 
$
0.22

Second Quarter
0.55

 
0.48

 
0.40

 
0.32

 
0.25

Third Quarter
0.55

 
0.48

 
0.40

 
0.32

 
0.25

Fourth Quarter
0.55

 
0.48

 
0.40

 
0.32

 
0.29

Fiscal Year
$
2.20

 
$
1.92

 
$
1.60

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.01


On April 7, 2015, the Company announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.60 per share, which is payable on June 30, 2015 to stockholders of record as of June 15, 2015. Future dividend declarations and associated amounts paid will depend upon the Company’s earnings, financial condition, loan covenants, capital requirements and other factors deemed relevant by management and the Company’s Board of Directors.

18


ITEM 7.
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS: 2015 COMPARED TO 2014
OVERVIEW
Airgas, Inc. and its subsidiaries (“Airgas” or the “Company”) had net sales for the year ended March 31, 2015 (“fiscal 2015” or “current year”) of $5.3 billion compared to $5.1 billion for the year ended March 31, 2014 (“fiscal 2014” or “prior year”), an increase of 5%. Organic sales increased 3% compared to the prior year, with gas and rent up 3% and hardgoods up 4%. Current and prior year acquisitions contributed sales growth of 2% in the current year. Through the first nine months of fiscal 2015, organic sales growth was 3% with the third quarter showing the strongest year over year growth rate of 6%. The Company’s fourth quarter year over year organic growth rate fell to 2% as the energy & chemicals and manufacturing customer segments were negatively impacted by the significant and rapid decline in oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar.
The consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) in the current year was 55.6%, a decrease of 10 basis points from the prior year.
The Company’s operating income margin in the current year was 12.1%, a decrease of 30 basis points from the prior year, primarily reflecting the sales mix shift toward lower margin hardgoods and the impact of rising operating costs and the Company’s continued investments in strategic long-term growth initiatives in the current low organic sales growth environment.
Net earnings per diluted share increased to $4.85 in the current year versus $4.68 in the prior year. Net earnings per diluted share in the prior year included $0.04 per diluted share in benefits related to changes in state income tax rates and law, and an $0.08 loss on the early extinguishment of debt.
Refrigerants Business
On October 16, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) signed the final rule pertaining to allowances for virgin production and consumption of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (“HCFCs”), including Refrigerant-22 (“R-22”), for calendar 2015 through 2019. The final rule, which was the lowest proposed five-year linear approach, establishes virgin R-22 consumption allowances which step down each year beginning with an approximately 60% reduction for calendar 2015, with a final ban on all production effective January 1, 2020. Both volumes and pricing of R-22 have been pressured the past two years, as a greater-than-expected amount of virgin R-22 has been available in the marketplace, due in part to the March 27, 2013 EPA ruling allowing for an increase in production and consumption of R-22 in calendar years 2013 and 2014. As production and imports of R-22 are phased out by the EPA in accordance with United States regulations adopted in response to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the “Montreal Protocol”), the gap between demand and supply is expected to be filled increasingly by reclaimed and recycled R-22. The Company believes that as a leading reclaimer, recycler and distributor of R-22, its refrigerants business is well-positioned over the long-term to benefit from an expected increase in demand for reclaimed and recycled R-22, as well as from expected increases in market pricing of R-22, as the phase-out progresses. The timing and pace of the market’s increased reliance on reclaimed and recycled R-22, however, is difficult to predict due to the excess inventory that has accumulated throughout the industry’s supply chain and that must be worked off in the near-term.
Helium Supply Challenges
After several years of shortage, allocation and unpredictable supply of helium, the Company’s sales volumes remain below pre-shortage levels. During fiscal 2015, the Company embarked on efforts to strengthen the diversity and reliability of its helium supply chain. In addition to completing a long term renewal with one supplier, the Company entered into a new agreement to pick up liquid Helium from another supplier. These agreements, which the Company believes will support its ability to reliably supply its customers for many years to come, have resulted in net higher product and distribution costs. They also contain minimum volume purchase obligations. In order to manage the supply chain for this helium throughout its network, the Company invested in helium transportation, storage and trans-filling assets. Helium is a global product and recent additional helium production capacity in the Middle East coupled with the slowdown in global growth has created a worldwide helium supply surplus which will challenge the Company’s ability to pass on all of the increased costs to its customers in the near term. In spite of this near term challenge, however, the Company believes its ability to consistently and reliably supply its customers with helium for years to come has been enhanced.
Fiscal 2016 Outlook
The level of uncertainty in the U.S. industrial economy, in part, caused by the rapid and dramatic drop in oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar makes it difficult to predict the Company’s near-term sales outlook. The Company’s guidance range assumes an organic sales growth rate for fiscal 2016 in the low to mid single digits, with a gradual increase in growth rates as

19


the year progresses. The Company expects earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2016 to be in the range of $4.85 to $5.15, an increase of 0% to 6% over earnings per diluted share of $4.85 in fiscal 2015. The Company’s fiscal 2016 guidance includes an estimated year-over-year negative impact of $0.00 to $0.14 per diluted share from variable compensation reset following a below-budget year as well as a year-over-year negative impact of $0.06 to $0.09 per diluted share from near term net cost pressure related to helium supply extension and diversification initiatives.

20


STATEMENT OF EARNINGS COMMENTARY - FISCAL YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 2015 COMPARED TO FISCAL YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 2014
Net Sales
Net sales increased 5% to $5.3 billion for the current year compared to the prior year, driven by organic sales growth of 3% and sales growth from current and prior year acquisitions of 2%. Gas and rent organic sales increased 3% in the current year, and hardgoods organic sales increased 4%. Organic sales growth in the current year was driven by price increases of 2% and volume increases of 1%.
Strategic products represent approximately 40% of net sales and are comprised of safety products and bulk, medical and specialty gases (and associated rent), which are sold to end customers through the Distribution business segment, and carbon dioxide (“CO2”) and dry ice, the vast majority of which is sold to end customers through the All Other Operations business segment. The Company has identified these products as strategic because it believes they have good long-term growth profiles relative to the Company’s core industrial gas and welding products due to favorable end customer markets, application development, increasing environmental regulation, strong cross-selling opportunities or a combination thereof. During the current year, sales of strategic products in aggregate increased 4% on an organic basis as compared to the prior year.
The Company’s strategic accounts program, which represents approximately 25% of net sales, is designed to deliver superior product and service offerings to larger, multi-location customers, and presents the Company with strong cross-selling and greater penetration opportunities. Sales to strategic accounts in the current year increased 5% compared to the prior year.
In the following table, the intercompany eliminations represent sales from the All Other Operations business segment to the Distribution business segment.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Net Sales
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
 
 
Distribution
$
4,773,489

 
$
4,558,790

 
$
214,699

 
5
%
All Other Operations
560,622

 
544,154

 
16,468

 
3
%
Intercompany eliminations
(29,226
)
 
(30,407
)
 
1,181

 
 
 
$
5,304,885

 
$
5,072,537

 
$
232,348

 
5
%
The Distribution business segment’s principal products and services include industrial, medical and specialty gases, and process chemicals; cylinder and equipment rental; and hardgoods. Industrial, medical and specialty gases are distributed in cylinders and bulk containers. Rental fees are generally charged on cylinders, dewars (cryogenic liquid cylinders), bulk and micro-bulk tanks, tube trailers and certain welding equipment. Hardgoods generally consist of welding consumables and equipment, safety products, construction supplies, and maintenance, repair and operating supplies.
Distribution business segment sales increased 5% compared to the prior year, with an increase in organic sales of 3%. Incremental sales from current and prior year acquisitions contributed sales growth of 2% in the current year. Higher pricing contributed 2% and volume increases contributed 1% to organic sales growth in the Distribution business segment. Gas and rent organic sales in the Distribution business segment increased 2%, with pricing up 3% and volumes down 1%. Hardgoods organic sales within the Distribution business segment increased 4%, with pricing up 1% and volumes up 3%.
Within the Distribution business segment, organic sales of gas related strategic products and associated rent increased 4% over the prior year, comprised of the following: bulk gas and rent up 5%, on higher pricing and volumes; specialty gas, rent, and related equipment up 3%, primarily driven by increases in core specialty gas prices and volume; and medical gas and rent up 2%, as increases to physician and dental practices, as well as hospitals and surgery centers, were partially offset by weakness in wholesale sales to homecare distributors. In addition, organic sales in the Company’s Red-D-Arc business increased 14% over the prior year, driven by increases in both welder and generator rentals in the non-residential construction and energy customer segments.
Within the Distribution business segment’s hardgoods sales, organic sales of equipment were up 8% year-over-year. Sales of safety products increased by 4% compared to the prior year driven by volume gains. Sales of the Company’s Radnor® private-label product line, which includes certain safety products, consumables, and other hardgoods, increased 4% in the current year, consistent with the 4% increase in total hardgoods organic sales in the Distribution business segment.
The All Other Operations business segment consists of five business units. The primary products manufactured and/or distributed are CO2, dry ice, nitrous oxide, ammonia and refrigerant gases.
The All Other Operations business segment sales increased 3% in total and on an organic basis compared to the prior year. Sales increases in the Company’s CO2, dry ice, and ammonia businesses were partially offset by the decline in sales in its refrigerants business. Organic sales of CO2 and dry ice increased 3% over the prior year.

21


Gross Profits (Excluding Depreciation)
Gross profits (excluding depreciation) do not reflect deductions related to depreciation expense and distribution costs. The Company reflects distribution costs as an element of the line item “Selling, distribution and administrative expenses” and recognizes depreciation on all of its property, plant and equipment in the line item “Depreciation” in its consolidated statements of earnings. Other companies may report certain or all of these costs as elements of their cost of products sold and, as such, the Company’s gross profits (excluding depreciation) discussed below may not be comparable to those of other companies.
Consolidated gross profits (excluding depreciation) increased 4% in the current year compared to the prior year, reflecting the overall growth in sales, margin expansion on price increases and surcharges related to power cost spikes in the prior year's fourth quarter, partially offset by supplier price and internal production cost increases and a sales mix shift toward lower margin hardgoods. The consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) in the current year decreased 10 basis points to 55.6% compared to 55.7% in the prior year. The decrease in consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) reflects margin expansion on price increases, offset by a sales mix shift toward lower margin hardgoods. Gas and rent represented 63.2% of the Company’s sales mix in the current year, down from 63.6% in the prior year.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Gross Profits (ex. Depr.)
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
 
 
Distribution
$
2,681,023

 
$
2,562,725

 
$
118,298

 
5
%
All Other Operations
267,987

 
262,238

 
5,749

 
2
%
 
$
2,949,010

 
$
2,824,963

 
$
124,047

 
4
%
The Distribution business segment’s gross profits (excluding depreciation) increased 5% compared to the prior year. The Distribution business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) remained consistent at 56.2% in the current and prior year. The Distribution business segment’s flat gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) reflects margin expansion on price increases and surcharges related to power cost spikes in the prior year's fourth quarter, offset by a sales mix shift toward lower margin hardgoods. Gas and rent represented 59.1% of the Distribution business segment’s sales in the current year, down from 59.6% in the prior year.
The All Other Operations business segment’s gross profits (excluding depreciation) increased 2% compared to the prior year. The All Other Operations business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) decreased 40 basis points to 47.8% in the current year from 48.2% in the prior year. The decrease in the All Other Operations business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) was primarily driven by a sales mix shift toward lower margin ammonia and slight margin pressure in the Company’s CO2, refrigerants and ammonia businesses, partially offset by a sales mix shift away from lower margin refrigerants.
Operating Expenses
Selling, Distribution and Administrative (“SD&A”) Expenses
SD&A expenses consist of labor and overhead associated with the purchasing, marketing and distribution of the Company’s products, as well as costs associated with a variety of administrative functions such as legal, treasury, accounting, tax and facility-related expenses. Although corporate operating expenses are generally allocated to each business segment based on sales dollars, the Company reported expenses (excluding depreciation) related to the implementation of its SAP system as part of SD&A expenses in the “Other” line item in the SD&A expenses and operating income tables below.
Consolidated SD&A expenses increased $90 million, or 5%, in the current year as compared to the prior year. Contributing to the increase in SD&A expenses were approximately $27 million of incremental operating costs associated with acquired businesses, representing approximately 1.4% of the total increase in SD&A. Normal inflation, as well as expenses associated with the Company’s investments in long-term strategic growth initiatives, including its e-Business platform, continued expansion of its telesales business through Airgas Total Access™, and regional management structure changes, also contributed to the increase. As a percentage of consolidated gross profit, consolidated SD&A expenses increased 20 basis points to 67.1% in the current year, compared to 66.9% in the prior year.

22


 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
SD&A Expenses
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
 
Distribution
$
1,792,116

 
$
1,705,408

 
$
86,708

 
5
%
All Other Operations
186,558

 
176,289

 
10,269

 
6
%
Other

 
7,426

 
(7,426
)
 
 
 
$
1,978,674

 
$
1,889,123

 
$
89,551

 
5
%
SD&A expenses in the Distribution business segment increased 5%, while SD&A expenses in the All Other Operations business segment increased 6%, compared to the prior year. Contributing to the increase in SD&A expenses in the Distribution business segment were approximately $27 million of incremental operating costs associated with acquired businesses, representing approximately 1.5% of the increase in SD&A. Normal inflation, as well as expenses associated with the Company’s investments in long-term strategic growth initiatives, including its e-Business platform, continued expansion of its telesales business through Airgas Total Access™, and regional management structure changes, also contributed to the increase. As a percentage of Distribution business segment gross profit, SD&A expenses in the Distribution business segment increased 30 basis points to 66.8% compared to 66.5% in the prior year. As a percentage of All Other Operations business segment gross profit, SD&A expenses in the All Other Operations business segment increased 240 basis points to 69.6% compared to 67.2% in the prior year, primarily driven by margin pressure as noted above.
SD&A Expenses – Other
Enterprise Information System
As of March 31, 2013 the Company had successfully converted its Safety telesales and hardgoods infrastructure businesses, as well as all of its regional distribution businesses, to the SAP platform. The Company continued to incur some post-conversion support and training expenses related to the implementation of the new system through the end of fiscal 2014. SAP-related integration costs were $7.4 million in the prior year, and were recorded as SD&A expenses and not allocated to the Company’s business segments.
Depreciation and Amortization
Depreciation expense increased $22 million, or 8%, to $298 million in the current year as compared to the prior year. The increase primarily reflects the additional depreciation expense on capital investments in revenue generating assets to support customer demand (such as cylinders / bulk tanks and rental welders / generators) and $3 million of additional depreciation expense on capital assets included in acquisitions. Amortization expense of $31 million in the current year increased by $2 million compared to the prior year, driven by acquisitions.
Operating Income
Consolidated operating income of $641 million increased 2% in the current year compared to the prior year, primarily driven by organic sales growth. The consolidated operating income margin decreased 30 basis points to 12.1% compared to 12.4% in the prior year, primarily reflecting a sales mix shift toward hardgoods.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Operating Income
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
 
 
Distribution
$
589,334

 
$
579,476

 
$
9,858

 
2
 %
All Other Operations
51,944

 
58,484

 
(6,540
)
 
(11
)%
Other

 
(7,426
)
 
7,426

 
 
 
$
641,278

 
$
630,534

 
$
10,744

 
2
 %
Operating income in the Distribution business segment increased 2% in the current year. The Distribution business segment’s operating income margin decreased 40 basis points to 12.3% from 12.7% in the prior year. The decline in the Distribution business segment’s operating income margin primarily reflects the sales mix shift toward lower margin hardgoods and the impact of rising operating costs and the Company’s continued investments in strategic long-term growth initiatives in the current low organic sales growth environment.
Operating income in the All Other Operations business segment decreased 11% compared to the prior year, primarily driven by the decline in refrigerants sales. The All Other Operations business segment’s operating income margin of 9.3% decreased by 140 basis points compared to the operating income margin of 10.7% in the prior year. The decrease in the All Other Operations business segment’s operating income margin was primarily driven by margin pressure in the Company’s refrigerants, CO2 and ammonia businesses.

23


Interest Expense, Net and Loss on the Extinguishment of Debt
Interest expense, net, was $62 million in the current year, representing a decrease of $11 million, or 16%, compared to the prior year. The overall decrease in interest expense, net resulted primarily from lower average borrowing rates, and to a lesser extent lower average debt balances, in the current year as compared to the prior year.
On October 2, 2013, the Company redeemed all $215 million of its 7.125% senior subordinated notes originally due to mature on October 1, 2018 (the “2018 Senior Subordinated Notes”). A loss on the early extinguishment of debt of $9.1 million related to the redemption premium and write-off of unamortized debt issuance costs was recognized in the prior year.
Income Tax Expense
The effective income tax rate was 37.0% of pre-tax earnings in the current year compared to 36.4% in the prior year. An aggregate $3.3 million in favorable state income tax items was recognized in the prior year. During the three months ended September 30, 2013, the Company recognized a $1.5 million tax benefit related to a change in a state income tax law, allowing the Company to utilize additional net operating loss carryforwards. During the three months ended March 31, 2014, the Company recognized an additional $1.8 million of tax benefits related to enacted changes in state income tax rates.
Net Earnings
Net earnings per diluted share increased 4% to $4.85 in the current year compared to $4.68 per diluted share in the prior year. Net earnings were $368 million compared to $351 million in the prior year. The current year’s earnings were not impacted by special items, while net earnings per diluted share in the prior year included $0.04 per diluted share in benefits related to changes in state income tax rates and law, and an $0.08 loss on the early extinguishment of debt.

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS: 2014 COMPARED TO 2013
OVERVIEW
Airgas had net sales for fiscal 2014 of $5.1 billion compared to $5.0 billion for the year ended March 31, 2013 (“fiscal 2013”), an increase of 2%. Total organic sales were flat compared to fiscal 2013, with gas and rent up 1% and hardgoods down 2%. Acquisitions contributed 2% sales growth in fiscal 2014. The Company’s organic sales growth reflected the impact of sluggish business conditions and persistent uncertainty in the U.S. industrial economy, which continued to challenge sales volumes to a greater degree than expected. The impact of price increases enacted in response to rising costs on multiple fronts, as well as the impact of more effective sales discount management, contributed 2% to total organic sales growth in fiscal 2014, which was offset by a negative 2% impact from volume declines. Pricing actions during fiscal 2014 were designed to address rising product, labor and benefits costs, including costs related to regulatory compliance and supply and demand imbalances for certain products. These actions also support ongoing investments in the Company’s infrastructure and technologies in order to more efficiently serve its customers and further ensure the reliability of its supply chain and safety practices.
The consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) in fiscal 2014 was 55.7%, an increase of 80 basis points from fiscal 2013, reflecting the impact of price increases, as well as the impact of more effective sales discount management, partially offset by the impacts of supplier price increases and rising internal production costs, significant margin pressure in the Company’s refrigerants business, and a sales mix shift within gases to lower-margin fuel gases.
The Company’s operating income margin increased to 12.4%, a 40 basis-point improvement over fiscal 2013. The combination of a reduction in SAP implementation costs and the achievement of SAP-related benefits contributed favorably to operating income margin during fiscal 2014 as compared to fiscal 2013. However, these favorable impacts were mostly offset by a significant decline in operating income margin in the Company’s refrigerants business, as well as by the impact of rising operating costs and the Company’s continued investments in strategic long-term growth initiatives in the low organic sales growth environment. Additionally, the operating income margin for fiscal 2013 was burdened by 20 basis points of net restructuring and other special charges.
Net earnings per diluted share rose to $4.68 in fiscal 2014 versus $4.35 in fiscal 2013. Results for fiscal 2014 included a loss of $0.08 per diluted share on the early extinguishment of the Company’s 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes, which were originally due to mature in October 2018 but were redeemed in full on October 2, 2013, as well as $0.04 per diluted share of state income tax benefits. Net earnings per diluted share included SAP-related benefits, net of implementation costs and depreciation expense, of $0.47 per diluted share in fiscal 2014 compared to $0.18 per diluted share of net expense in fiscal 2013. The favorable impact of the Company’s share repurchase program completed in the second half of fiscal 2013 on the Company’s earnings growth in fiscal 2014 was more than offset by the negative year-over-year impact related to its refrigerants business, which posted record results in fiscal 2013.
For fiscal 2013, the impact of special charges on diluted earnings per share was offset by the impact of special gains. Net special items in each year consisted of the following:

24


 
Years Ended
 
March 31,
Effect on Diluted EPS
2014
 
2013
State income tax benefits
$
0.04

 
$

Loss on the extinguishment of debt
(0.08
)
 

Gain on sale of businesses

 
0.07

Restructuring and other special charges, net

 
(0.07
)
Special items, net
$
(0.04
)
 
$

The following discussion includes a more detailed review of items that significantly impacted the Company’s financial results for fiscal 2014.
Enterprise Information System
As of March 2013, the Company had successfully converted its Safety telesales, hardgoods infrastructure, and regional distribution businesses to the SAP platform, representing over 90% of the Company’s Distribution business segment. Each of its four Business Support Centers (“BSCs”), into which the regional company accounting and administrative functions were consolidated upon converting to SAP, is firmly in place.
The Company previously quantified the economic benefits expected to be achieved through its implementation of SAP in three key areas: accelerated sales growth through expansion of the telesales platform, more effective management of pricing and discounting practices, and administrative and operating efficiencies. The Company began to realize meaningful SAP-related economic benefits from more effective management of pricing and discounting practices, as well as from the expansion of its telesales platform through Airgas Total Access™, in the second half of fiscal 2013. Fiscal 2014 included $0.47 per diluted share of SAP-related benefits, net of implementation costs and depreciation expense, compared to $0.18 per diluted share of net expense in fiscal 2013. By December 31, 2013, the Company had achieved its long-standing target of reaching an annual run-rate of $75 million in SAP-enabled operating income benefits by the end of calendar year 2013.
Refrigerants Business
On March 27, 2013, the EPA issued a ruling allowing for an increase in the production and import of R-22 in calendar years 2013 and 2014, rather than reaffirming the further reductions that much of the industry, including the Company, had been expecting based on a previously issued No Action Assurances letter from the EPA. R-22 has historically been one of the most commonly-used refrigerant gases in air conditioning systems in the U.S., and many of those systems are expected to remain operational for years to come.
During fiscal 2014, the EPA’s ruling significantly pressured both volumes and pricing of R-22, as a greater-than-expected amount of virgin R-22 was available in the marketplace. The year-over-year negative impact of the EPA’s ruling on the Company’s net earnings was approximately $0.20 per diluted share following fiscal 2013’s record performance in the refrigerants business, due in part to a previously issued No Action Assurances letter from the EPA.
Financing
On October 1, 2013, the Company repaid $300 million of indebtedness associated with its 2.85% senior notes (the “2013 Notes”) upon their maturity.
The Company’s $215 million of 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes were originally due to mature on October 1, 2018. The 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes had a redemption provision which permitted the Company, at its option, to call the 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes at scheduled dates and prices beginning on October 1, 2013. On October 2, 2013, the 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes were redeemed in full at a price of 103.563%. A loss on the early extinguishment of the 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes of $9.1 million was recognized during the year ended March 31, 2014 related to the redemption premium and the write-off of unamortized debt issuance costs.
Acquisitions
During fiscal 2014, the Company acquired eleven businesses with aggregate historical annual sales of approximately $82 million. The largest of these businesses was The Encompass Gas Group, Inc. (“Encompass”), headquartered in Rockford, Illinois. With eleven locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, Encompass was one of the largest privately-owned suppliers of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related hardgoods in the United States, generating approximately $55 million in annual sales in calendar 2012.
STATEMENT OF EARNINGS COMMENTARY - FISCAL YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 2014 COMPARED TO FISCAL YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 2013
Net Sales

25


Net sales increased 2% to $5.1 billion for fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013, with flat organic sales growth and incremental sales of 2% contributed by acquisitions. Gas and rent organic sales increased 1% and hardgoods decreased 2%. The impact of price increases enacted in response to rising costs on multiple fronts, as well as the impact of more effective sales discount management, contributed 2% to organic sales growth in fiscal 2014, which was offset by a negative 2% impact from volume declines.
For fiscal 2014, sales of strategic products increased 3% on an organic basis as compared to fiscal 2013. Sales to strategic accounts also grew 3%, driven by new account signings, expansion of locations served and product lines sold to existing accounts, and positive pricing more than offsetting the lower levels of activity in several areas, including mining and related equipment manufacturing, defense contractors and some pressure in the medical homecare market.
In the following table, the intercompany eliminations represent sales from the All Other Operations business segment to the Distribution business segment.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Net Sales
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
 
 
Distribution
$
4,558,790

 
$
4,398,105

 
$
160,685

 
4
 %
All Other Operations
544,154

 
593,598

 
(49,444
)
 
(8
)%
Intercompany eliminations
(30,407
)
 
(34,206
)
 
3,799

 
 

 
$
5,072,537

 
$
4,957,497

 
$
115,040

 
2
 %
Distribution business segment sales increased 4% compared to fiscal 2013 with an increase in organic sales of 1% and incremental sales of 3% contributed by acquisitions. The impact of price increases as well as more effective sales discount management contributed 3% to organic sales growth in the Distribution business segment, more than offsetting the negative 2% impact from volume declines. Gas and rent organic sales in the Distribution business segment increased 3%, with pricing up 5% and volumes down 2%. Hardgoods organic sales within the Distribution business segment declined 1%, reflecting pricing increases of 1% and volume decreases of 2%.
Sales of strategic gas products sold through the Distribution business segment in fiscal 2014 increased 4% from fiscal 2013. Among strategic gas products, bulk gas sales were up 5% as a result of higher pricing and volumes. Sales of medical gases were up 3% as a result of higher pricing and volumes across most medical segments and new customer signings, partially offset by weakness in the homecare segment. Sales of specialty gases were up 6%, with increases in both prices and volumes.
Sales of both Safety products and the Company’s Radnor® private-label brand product line helped moderate the organic sales decline in hardgoods for the Distribution business segment. Safety product sales increased 2% in fiscal 2014, and the Company’s Radnor® private-label line was up 2% for fiscal 2014. Both compared favorably to the 1% decline in hardgoods organic sales in the Distribution business segment but were weaker than expected.
The All Other Operations business segment sales decreased 8% in total and 9% on an organic basis compared to fiscal 2013, with incremental sales of 1% contributed by acquisitions. The organic sales decrease in the All Other Operations business segment during fiscal 2014, which decreased on both a volume and price basis, was primarily driven by the negative impact of the March 2013 EPA ruling on R-22 production and import allowances on the Company’s refrigerants business, as well as declines in the Company’s ammonia and CO2 businesses during fiscal 2014.
Gross Profits (Excluding Depreciation)
Consolidated gross profits (excluding depreciation) increased 4% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013. The consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) in fiscal 2014 increased 80 basis points to 55.7% compared to 54.9% in fiscal 2013. The increase in the consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) primarily reflects the impact of price increases, as well as the impact of more effective sales discount management, partially offset by the impacts of supplier price increases and rising internal production costs, significant margin pressure in the Company’s refrigerants business, and a sales mix shift within gases to lower-margin fuel gases. A sales mix shift toward higher-margin gas and rent also drove the higher consolidated gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) for fiscal 2014. Gas and rent represented 63.6% of the Company’s sales mix in fiscal 2014, up from 63.2% in fiscal 2013.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Gross Profits (ex. Depr.)
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
 
 
Distribution
$
2,562,725

 
$
2,439,532

 
$
123,193

 
5
 %
All Other Operations
262,238

 
282,398

 
(20,160
)
 
(7
)%
 
$
2,824,963

 
$
2,721,930

 
$
103,033

 
4
 %

26


The Distribution business segment’s gross profits (excluding depreciation) increased 5% compared to fiscal 2013. The Distribution business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) was 56.2% versus 55.5% in fiscal 2013, an increase of 70 basis points. The increase in the Distribution business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) reflects the sales mix shift toward higher-margin gas and rent, and the impact of price increases as well as more effective sales discount management, partially offset by the impacts of supplier price increases and rising internal production costs, and a sales mix shift within gases to lower-margin fuel gases. As a percentage of the Distribution business segment’s sales, gas and rent increased 100 basis points to 59.6% in fiscal 2014 as compared to 58.6% in fiscal 2013.
The All Other Operations business segment’s gross profits (excluding depreciation) decreased 7% compared to fiscal 2013, largely as a result of reduced gross profits (excluding depreciation) in the refrigerants business due to the EPA’s ruling in late March 2013. The All Other Operations business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) increased 60 basis points to 48.2% in fiscal 2014 from 47.6% in fiscal 2013. The increase in the All Other Operations business segment’s gross profit margin (excluding depreciation) was primarily the result of improvement in ammonia margins and less lower-margin refrigerants in the sales mix, partially offset by margin erosion in the refrigerants business.
Operating Expenses
SD&A Expenses
Consolidated SD&A expenses increased $61 million, or 3%, in fiscal 2014 as compared to fiscal 2013. Contributing to the increase in SD&A expenses were approximately $25 million of incremental operating costs associated with acquired businesses. Also contributing to the increase in SD&A expenses were staffing, training, and other setup costs associated with the expansion of the Airgas Total Access™ telesales program, costs associated with the analysis and execution of the Company’s strategic pricing initiative and enhancement of its e-Business platform, rising health care costs, and higher operating costs due to severe winter weather. The incremental expenses related to these strategic initiatives, health care costs and severe winter weather more than offset the favorable impact of the reduction in SAP implementation costs compared to fiscal 2013. As a percentage of consolidated gross profit, consolidated SD&A expenses decreased 30 basis points to 66.9% in fiscal 2014, compared to 67.2% in fiscal 2013.
 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
SD&A Expenses
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
 
 
Distribution
$
1,705,408

 
$
1,620,651

 
$
84,757

 
5
%
All Other Operations
176,289

 
174,643

 
1,646

 
1
%
Other
7,426

 
33,230

 
(25,804
)
 
 
 
$
1,889,123

 
$
1,828,524

 
$
60,599

 
3
%
SD&A expenses in the Distribution and All Other Operations business segments increased 5% and 1%, respectively, in fiscal 2014. For the Distribution business segment, approximately 1.5% of the increase in SD&A costs was driven by incremental operating costs associated with acquired businesses of $24 million. Rising health care costs and expenses associated with the expansion of the Airgas Total Access™ telesales program, the Company’s strategic pricing initiative and the enhancement of the Company’s e-Business platform also contributed to the increase in SD&A expenses in the Distribution business segment. For the All Other Operations business segment, $1 million of the increase in SD&A costs was related to incremental operating costs associated with acquired businesses. As a percentage of Distribution business segment gross profit, SD&A expenses in the Distribution business segment increased 10 basis points to 66.5% compared to 66.4% in fiscal 2013. As a percentage of All Other Operations business segment gross profit, SD&A expenses in the All Other Operations business segment increased 540 basis points to 67.2% compared to 61.8% in fiscal 2013, primarily due to sales declines in the Company’s refrigerants, ammonia and CO2 businesses.
SD&A Expenses – Other
Enterprise Information System
As of March, 31, 2013 the Company had successfully converted its Safety telesales and hardgoods infrastructure businesses, as well as all of its regional distribution businesses, to the SAP platform. The Company continued to incur some post-conversion support and training expenses related to the implementation of the new system through the end of fiscal 2014. SAP-related costs were $7.4 million for fiscal 2014 as compared to $33.2 million in fiscal 2013, and were recorded as SD&A expenses and not allocated to the Company’s business segments.
Restructuring and Other Special Charges, Net
The Company’s restructuring and other special charges, net are not allocated to the Company’s business segments. These costs are captured in a separate line item on the Company’s consolidated statements of earnings and are reflected in the “Other”

27


line item in the operating income table below. The Company incurred no restructuring and other special charges for fiscal 2014. The following table presents the components of restructuring and other special charges, net for fiscal 2013:
 
Years Ended
Restructuring and Other Special Charges, Net
March 31,
(In thousands)
2013
Restructuring costs (benefits), net
$
(2,177
)
Other related costs
8,537

Asset impairment charges
1,729

 
$
8,089

Restructuring and Other Related Costs
In May 2011, the Company announced the alignment of its then twelve regional distribution companies into four new divisions, and the consolidation of its regional company accounting and certain administrative functions into four newly created BSCs. Additionally, the Company initiated a related change in its legal entity structure on January 1, 2012 whereby each Airgas regional distribution company would merge, once converted to SAP, into a single limited liability company (“LLC”) of which Airgas, Inc. is the sole member. Prior to conversion to SAP, each of the Company’s twelve regional distribution companies operated its own accounting and administrative functions. Enabled by the Company’s conversion to a single information platform across all of its regional distribution businesses as part of the SAP implementation, the restructuring allows Airgas to more effectively utilize its resources across its regional distribution businesses and form an operating structure to leverage the full benefits of its new SAP platform.
As of March 31, 2013, the divisional alignment was complete and all material costs related to the restructuring had been incurred.
During fiscal 2013, the Company recorded $2.2 million in net restructuring benefits. In fiscal 2013, the Company re-evaluated its remaining severance liability related to the divisional realignment and, as a result of this analysis, reduced its severance liability by $3.7 million. The change in estimate was driven by fewer than expected individuals meeting the requirements to receive severance benefits. This reduction was due to both the retention of employees through relocation or acceptance of new positions, as well as former associates who chose not to remain with the Company through their designated separation dates. Offsetting the benefit from the reduction to the severance liability were additional restructuring costs of $1.5 million, primarily related to relocation and other costs. The Company also incurred $8.5 million of other costs in fiscal 2013 related to the divisional alignment and LLC formation. These costs primarily related to transition staffing for the BSCs, legal costs and other expenses associated with the Company’s organizational and legal entity changes.
Asset Impairment Charge
In June 2012, the Company re-evaluated the economic viability of a small hospital piping construction business. As a result of an impairment analysis performed on the long-lived assets at the associated reporting unit, the Company recorded a charge of $1.7 million related to certain of the other intangible assets associated with this business during fiscal 2013.
Depreciation and Amortization
Depreciation expense increased $14 million or 5%, to $275 million in fiscal 2014 as compared to fiscal 2013. The increase primarily reflects the additional depreciation expense on capital investments in revenue generating assets to support customer demand (such as cylinders, rental welders and bulk tanks) and $3 million of additional depreciation expense on capital assets included in acquisitions. Amortization expense of $30 million in fiscal 2014 was $3 million higher than fiscal 2013, driven by acquisitions.
Operating Income
Consolidated operating income of $631 million increased 6% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013. The consolidated operating income margin increased 40 basis points to 12.4% from 12.0% in fiscal 2013. The combination of a reduction in SAP implementation costs and the achievement of SAP-related benefits contributed favorably to operating income margin during fiscal 2014 as compared to fiscal 2013. However, these favorable impacts were mostly offset by a significant decline in operating income margin in the Company’s refrigerants business, as well as by the impact of rising operating costs and the Company’s continued investments in strategic long-term growth initiatives in the current low organic sales growth environment. Additionally, fiscal 2013’s operating income margin was burdened by 20 basis points of net restructuring and other special charges.

28


 
Years Ended
 
 
 
 
Operating Income
March 31,
 
Increase/(Decrease)
 
 
(In thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
 
 
Distribution
$
579,476

 
$
556,417

 
$
23,059

 
4
 %
All Other Operations
58,484

 
81,319

 
(22,835
)
 
(28
)%
Other
(7,426
)
 
(41,319
)
 
33,893

 
 

 
$
630,534

 
$
596,417

 
$
34,117

 
6
 %
Operating income in the Distribution business segment increased 4% in fiscal 2014. The Distribution business segment’s operating income margin of 12.7% was consistent with that of fiscal 2013. The Distribution business segment’s operating income margin as compared to fiscal 2013 reflects the achievement of net SAP-related benefits in fiscal 2014, offset by the impact of rising operating costs and the Company’s continued investments in strategic long-term growth initiatives in the current low organic sales growth environment.
Operating income in the All Other Operations business segment decreased 28% compared to fiscal 2013, primarily driven by the decline in refrigerants sales. The All Other Operations business segment’s operating income margin of 10.7% decreased by 300 basis points compared to the operating income margin of 13.7% in fiscal 2013, primarily driven by margin compression in the refrigerants business.
Interest Expense, Net and Loss on the Extinguishment of Debt
Interest expense, net, was $74 million in fiscal 2014, representing an increase of $6 million, or 9%, compared to fiscal 2013. The increase in interest expense, net was primarily driven by higher average borrowings related to the Company’s $600 million share repurchase program, which was authorized and completed during the second half of fiscal 2013. The increase in interest expense, net was partially offset by the retirements of the Company’s 2013 Notes and 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes during fiscal 2014.
On October 2, 2013, the Company redeemed all $215 million of its outstanding 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes. A loss on the early extinguishment of debt of $9.1 million related to the redemption premium and write-off of unamortized debt issuance costs was recognized in fiscal 2014.
Income Tax Expense
The effective income tax rate was 36.4% of pre-tax earnings in fiscal 2014 compared to 37.3% in fiscal 2013. The decrease in the effective income tax rate was primarily the result of an aggregate $3.3 million in favorable state income tax items recognized in fiscal 2014. During the three months ended September 30, 2013, the Company recognized a $1.5 million tax benefit related to a change in a state income tax law, allowing the Company to utilize additional net operating loss carryforwards. During the three months ended March 31, 2014, the Company recognized an additional $1.8 million of tax benefits related to enacted changes in state income tax rates.
Net Earnings
Net earnings per diluted share increased by 8% to $4.68 in fiscal 2014 compared to $4.35 per diluted share in fiscal 2013. Net earnings were $351 million compared to $341 million in fiscal 2013. Fiscal 2014’s diluted earnings per share included SAP-related benefits, net of implementation costs and depreciation expense, of $0.47, representing a favorable $0.65 year-over-year change from the $0.18 of net expense in fiscal 2013. Net earnings per diluted share in fiscal 2014 included net special charges of $0.04, while fiscal 2013’s earnings were not impacted on a net basis by special items.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
Cash Flows
Net cash provided by operating activities was $718 million in fiscal 2015 compared to $745 million in fiscal 2014 and $550 million in fiscal 2013.
The following table provides a summary of the major items affecting the Company’s cash flows from operating activities for the years presented:

29


 
Years Ended March 31,
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net earnings
$
368,086

 
$
350,784

 
$
340,874

Non-cash and non-operating activities (1)
388,789

 
335,284

 
345,618

Changes in working capital
(26,192
)
 
63,998

 
(130,234
)
Other operating activities
(12,646
)
 
(5,206
)
 
(5,990
)
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
718,037

 
$
744,860

 
$
550,268

____________________
(1)
Includes depreciation, amortization, asset impairment charges, deferred income taxes, gains on sales of plant, equipment and businesses, stock-based compensation expense, and losses on the extinguishment of debt.
The cash outflow related to working capital in the current year was primarily driven by the timing of income tax payments due to changes in tax laws. The cash inflow related to working capital in fiscal 2014 was primarily driven by a lower required investment in working capital, reflecting a low organic sales growth environment, improved accounts receivable management following the Company’s SAP conversions and the timing of income tax payments. The fiscal 2013 outflow for working capital reflected an increased year-over-year investment in inventory related to the Company’s expanded telesales program and the higher cost of refrigerants inventory.
Net earnings plus non-cash and non-operating activities provided cash of $757 million in fiscal 2015 versus $686 million in fiscal 2014 and $686 million in fiscal 2013.
As of March 31, 2015, $21 million of the Company’s $51 million cash balance was held by foreign subsidiaries. The Company does not believe it will be necessary to repatriate cash held outside of the U.S. and anticipates its domestic liquidity needs will be met through other funding sources such as cash flows generated from operating activities and external financing arrangements. Accordingly, the Company intends to permanently reinvest the cash in its foreign operations to support working capital needs, investing and financing activities, and future business development. Were the Company’s intention to change, the amounts held within its foreign operations could be repatriated to the U.S., although any repatriations under current U.S. tax laws would be subject to income taxes, net of applicable foreign tax credits.
The following table provides a summary of the major items affecting the Company’s cash flows from investing activities for the years presented:
 
Years Ended March 31,
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Capital expenditures
$
(468,789
)
 
$
(354,587
)
 
$
(325,465
)
Proceeds from sales of plant, equipment and businesses
23,083

 
15,483

 
31,413

Business acquisitions and holdback settlements
(51,382
)
 
(203,529
)
 
(97,521
)
Other investing activities
325

 
(951
)
 
(1,286
)
Net cash used in investing activities
$
(496,763
)
 
$
(543,584
)
 
$
(392,859
)
Capital expenditures as a percent of sales were 8.8%, 7.0% and 6.6%, respectively, for fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013. The increase in capital expenditures in the current year compared to the prior year period reflects the Company’s higher investments in revenue generating assets, such as rental welding and generator equipment, cylinders and bulk tanks to support sales growth; the construction of new air separation units in Kentucky and Illinois and a new hardgoods distribution center in Wisconsin; and the development of the Company’s e-Business platform. The increase in capital expenditures in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 reflects higher investments in revenue generating assets, such as rental welding equipment, cylinders and bulk tanks to support sales growth, as well as investments in infrastructure to support the Company’s e-Commerce and strategic pricing initiatives, partially offset by capital expenditures related to the purchase of a new hardgoods distribution center in Bristol, Pennsylvania in fiscal 2013. In fiscal 2015, the company paid $51 million to acquire fourteen businesses and to settle holdback liabilities, which excludes cash paid related to certain contingent consideration arrangements that are reflected as financing activities. In fiscal 2014, the company paid $204 million to acquire eleven businesses and to settle holdback liabilities, which excludes cash paid related to certain contingent consideration arrangements that are reflected as financing activities. Additionally, during fiscal 2013, the Company sold five branch locations in western Canada and received incremental proceeds of $16 million in addition to proceeds from sales of other plant and equipment.
Free cash flow* in fiscal 2015 was $309 million, compared to $441 million in fiscal 2014 and $298 million in fiscal 2013.

30


* Free cash flow is a financial measure calculated as net cash provided by operating activities minus capital expenditures, adjusted for the impacts of certain items. See Non-GAAP reconciliation and components of free cash flow at the end of this section.
The following table provides a summary of the major items affecting the Company’s cash flows from financing activities for the years presented:
 
Years Ended March 31,
(In thousands)
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net cash borrowings (repayments)
$
(161,260
)
 
$
(113,374
)
 
$
452,952

Purchase of treasury stock

 
(8,127
)
 
(591,873
)
Dividends paid to stockholders
(164,517
)
 
(141,461
)
 
(122,202
)
Other financing activities
85,666

 
44,861

 
145,437

Net cash used in financing activities
$
(240,111
)
 
$
(218,101
)
 
$
(115,686
)
In fiscal 2015, net financing activities used cash of $240 million. Net cash repayments on debt obligations were $161 million, primarily related to the repayment of $400 million of 4.50% senior notes that matured on September 15, 2014, partially offset by the June 2014 issuance of $300 million of 3.65% senior notes maturing on July 15, 2024 and repayment of $63 million under the commercial paper program. Other financing activities, primarily comprised of proceeds and excess tax benefits related to the exercise of stock options and stock issued for the employee stock purchase plan, generated cash of $86 million during the current year.
In fiscal 2014, net financing activities used cash of $218 million. Net cash repayments on debt obligations were $113 million, primarily related to the early redemption of the Company’s 2018 Senior Subordinated Notes and repayment of its 2013 Notes upon their maturity in October 2013. The note repayments were financed with proceeds from the Company’s commercial paper program, excess cash and borrowings under its trade receivables securitization facility. Other financing activities, primarily comprised of proceeds and excess tax benefits related to the exercise of stock options and stock issued for the employee stock purchase plan, generated cash of $45 million during the current year.
In fiscal 2013, net financing activities used cash of $116 million. Net cash borrowings were a source of $453 million, primarily related to the issuance of $325 million of 1.65% senior notes maturing on February 15, 2018, $275 million of 2.375% senior notes maturing on February 15, 2020 and $250 million of 2.90% senior notes maturing on November 15, 2022, offset by the pay down of $388 million of commercial paper. Proceeds from the senior notes were primarily used to fund acquisitions and share repurchases and to pay down the balance on the commercial paper program. As a result, there were no outstanding borrowings under the commercial paper program at March 31, 2013. On October 23, 2012, the Company announced a $600 million share repurchase program. By March 31, 2013, the Company had completed the program, repurchasing 6.29 million shares on the open market at an average price of $95.37. Due to the settlement timing of the last repurchase, $8.1 million of these repurchases were reflected as a cash outflow in the first quarter of fiscal 2014. Other financing activities, primarily comprised of proceeds and excess tax benefits related to the exercise of stock options and stock issued for the employee stock purchase plan, generated cash of $145 million driven by higher levels of stock option exercise activity and the associated excess tax benefits.
Dividends
In fiscal 2015, the Company paid its stockholders $165 million in dividends or $0.55 per share in all four quarters. During fiscal 2014, the Company paid dividends of $141 million or $0.48 per share in all four quarters. During fiscal 2013, the Company paid its stockholders $122 million in dividends or $0.40 per share in all four quarters. Future dividend declarations and associated amounts paid will depend upon the Company’s earnings, financial condition, loan covenants, capital requirements and other factors deemed relevant by management and the Company’s Board of Directors.
Financial Instruments and Sources of Liquidity
In addition to utilizing cash from operations, the Company has various liquidity resources available to meet its future cash requirements for working capital, capital expenditures and other financial commitments. See Note 9 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for additional information on the Company’s debt instruments.
Money Market Loans
The Company has two separate money market loan agreements with financial institutions to provide access to short-term advances not to exceed $35 million for each respective agreement. At March 31, 2015, there were no advances outstanding under the agreements.

31


 
Commercial Paper
The Company participates in a $1 billion commercial paper program supported by its Credit Facility (see below). This program allows the Company to obtain favorable short-term borrowing rates with maturities that vary, but will generally not exceed 90 days from the date of issue, and is classified as short-term debt. At maturity, the commercial paper balances are often rolled over rather than repaid or refinanced, depending on the Company’s cash and liquidity positions. The Company has used proceeds from commercial paper issuances for general corporate purposes. During fiscal 2015, proceeds from the issuance of an aggregate $300 million of senior notes in June 2014 were principally used to pay down commercial paper. Subsequently, the Company primarily used commercial paper to redeem its $400 million of 4.50% senior notes which matured in September 2014.
Trade Receivables Securitization
The Company participates in a securitization agreement with three commercial bank conduits to which it sells qualifying trade receivables on a revolving basis (the “Securitization Agreement”), up to a maximum amount of $295 millionThe Company’s sale of qualified trade receivables is accounted for as a secured borrowing under which qualified trade receivables collateralize amounts borrowed from the commercial bank conduits. At March 31, 2015, the amount of outstanding borrowing under the Securitization Agreement was $295 million.
Senior Credit Facility
The Company participates in a $1 billion Amended and Restated Credit Facility (the “Credit Facility”). The Credit Facility consists of an $875 million U.S. dollar revolving credit line, with a $100 million letter of credit sublimit and a $75 million swingline sublimit, and a $125 million (U.S. dollar equivalent) multi-currency revolving credit line. Under circumstances described in the Credit Facility, the revolving credit line may be increased by an additional $500 million, provided that the multi-currency revolving credit line may not be increased by more than an additional $50 million.
At March 31, 2015, the financial covenant of the Credit Facility did not restrict the Company’s ability to borrow on the unused portion of the Credit Facility. The Credit Facility contains customary events of default including, without limitation, failure to make payments, a cross-default to certain other debt, breaches of covenants, breaches of representations and warranties, certain monetary judgments and bankruptcy and ERISA events. In the event of default, repayment of borrowings under the Credit Facility may be accelerated.
Senior Notes
In June 2014, the Company issued $300 million of 3.65% senior notes maturing on July 15, 2024, which were principally used to pay down commercial paper. In September 2014, the Company repaid its maturing $400 million of 4.50% senior notes primarily through the use of commercial paper issuances.
Total Borrowing Capacity
The Company believes that it has sufficient liquidity to meet its working capital, capital expenditure and other financial commitments, including its $250 million of 3.25% senior notes maturing on October 1, 2015. The sources of that liquidity include cash from operations, availability under the Company’s commercial paper program, Securitization Agreement and revolving credit facilities, and potential capital markets transactions. The financial covenant under the Company’s Credit Facility requires the Company to maintain a leverage ratio not higher than 3.5x Debt to EBITDA. The leverage ratio is a contractually defined amount principally reflecting debt and, historically, the amounts outstanding under the Securitization Agreement (“Debt”), divided by a contractually defined Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (“EBITDA”) financial measure for the trailing twelve-month period with pro forma adjustments for acquisitions. The financial covenant calculations of the Credit Facility include the pro forma results of acquired businesses. Therefore, total borrowing capacity is not reduced dollar-for-dollar with acquisition financing. The leverage ratio measures the Company’s ability to meet current and future obligations. At March 31, 2015, the Company’s leverage ratio was 2.4x and $575 million remained available under the Company’s Credit Facility, after giving effect to the commercial paper program backstopped by the Credit Facility, the outstanding U.S. letters of credit and the borrowings under the multi-currency revolver.
The Company continually evaluates alternative financing arrangements and believes that it can obtain financing on reasonable terms. The terms of any future financing arrangements depend on market conditions and the Company’s financial position at that time. At March 31, 2015, the Company was in compliance with all covenants under all of its debt agreements.
Interest Rate Derivatives
The Company manages its exposure to changes in market interest rates through the occasional use of interest rate derivative instruments, when deemed appropriate. At March 31, 2015, the Company had no derivative instruments outstanding.

32


Interest Expense
Based on the Company’s fixed-to-variable interest rate ratio as of March 31, 2015, for every 25 basis point increase in the Company’s average variable borrowing rates, the Company estimates that its annual interest expense would increase by approximately $1.7 million.

33


Non-GAAP Reconciliations
Adjusted Cash from Operations, Adjusted Capital Expenditures, and Free Cash Flow
 
Years Ended March 31,
(In thousands)
2015
2014
2013
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
718,037

$
744,860

$
550,268

Adjustments to net cash provided by operating activities:
 
 
 
Stock issued for the Employee Stock Purchase Plan
17,940

17,313

17,088

Excess tax benefit realized from the exercise of stock options
16,045

13,668

36,160

Adjusted cash from operations
752,022

775,841

603,516

Capital expenditures
(468,789
)
(354,587
)
(325,465
)
Adjustments to capital expenditures:
 
 
 
Proceeds from sales of plant and equipment
23,083

15,483

15,693

Operating lease buyouts
3,159

4,420

3,946

Adjusted capital expenditures
(442,547
)
(334,684
)
(305,826
)
Free cash flow
$
309,475

$
441,157

$
297,690

 
 
 
 
Net cash used in investing activities
$
(496,763
)
$
(543,584
)
$
(392,859
)
Net cash used in financing activities
$
(240,111
)
$
(218,101
)
$
(115,686
)
The Company believes its free cash flow financial measure provides investors meaningful insight into its ability to generate cash from operations, which is available for servicing debt obligations and for the execution of its business strategies, including acquisitions, the prepayment of debt, the payment of dividends, or to support other investing and financing activities. The Company’s free cash flow financial measure has limitations and does not represent the residual cash flow available for discretionary expenditures. Certain non-discretionary expenditures such as payments on maturing debt obligations are excluded from the Company’s computation of its free cash flow financial measure. Non-GAAP financial measures should be read in conjunction with GAAP financial measures, as non-GAAP financial measures are merely a supplement to, and not a replacement for, GAAP financial measures. It should also be noted that the Company’s free cash flow financial measure may be different from free cash flow financial measures provided by other companies.
OTHER
Critical Accounting Estimates
The preparation of financial statements and related disclosures in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make judgments, assumptions and estimates that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements included under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” describes the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of the consolidated financial statements. Estimates are used for, but not limited to, determining the net carrying value of trade receivables, inventories, goodwill, business insurance reserves and deferred income tax assets. Uncertainties about future events make these estimates susceptible to change. Management evaluates these estimates regularly and believes they are the best estimates, appropriately made, given the known facts and circumstances. For the three years ended March 31, 2015, there were no material changes in the valuation methods or assumptions used by management. However, actual results could differ from these estimates under different assumptions and circumstances. The Company believes the following accounting estimates are critical due to the subjectivity and judgment necessary to account for these matters, their susceptibility to change and the potential impact that different assumptions could have on operating performance or financial position.
Trade Receivables
The Company maintains an allowance for doubtful accounts, which includes sales returns, sales allowances and bad debts. The allowance adjusts the carrying value of trade receivables for the estimate of accounts that will ultimately not be collected. An allowance for doubtful accounts is generally established as trade receivables age beyond their due dates, whether as bad debts or as sales returns and allowances. As past due balances age, higher valuation allowances are established, thereby lowering the net carrying value of receivables. The amount of valuation allowance established for each past-due period reflects the Company’s historical collections experience, including that related to sales returns and allowances, as well as current economic conditions and trends. The Company also qualitatively establishes valuation allowances for specific problem accounts and bankruptcies, and other accounts that the Company deems relevant for specifically identified allowances. The

34


amounts ultimately collected on past due trade receivables are subject to numerous factors including general economic conditions, the condition of the receivable portfolios assumed in acquisitions, the financial condition of individual customers and the terms of reorganization for accounts exiting bankruptcy. Changes in these conditions impact the Company’s collection experience and may result in the recognition of higher or lower valuation allowances. Management evaluates the allowance for doubtful accounts monthly. Historically, bad debt expense reflected in the Company’s financial results has generally been in the range of 0.3% to 0.5% of net sales. The Company has a low concentration of credit risk due to its broad and diversified customer base across multiple industries and geographic locations, and its relatively low average order size. The Company’s largest customer accounts for less than 1% of total net sales.
Inventories
The Company’s inventories are stated at the lower of cost or market. The majority of the products the Company carries in inventory have long shelf lives and are not subject to technological obsolescence. The Company writes its inventory down to its estimated market value when it believes the market value is below cost. The Company estimates its ability to recover the costs of items in inventory by product type based on factors including the age of the products, the rate at which the product line is turning in inventory, the products’ physical condition and assumptions about future demand and market conditions. The ability of the Company to recover the cost of products in inventory can be affected by factors such as future customer demand, general market conditions and the Company’s relationships with significant suppliers. Management evaluates the recoverability of its inventory at least quarterly. In aggregate, inventory turns four-to-five times per year on average.
Goodwill
The Company is required to test goodwill associated with each of its reporting units for impairment at least annually and whenever events or circumstances indicate that it is more likely than not that goodwill may be impaired. The Company performs its annual goodwill impairment test as of October 31 of each year.
Goodwill is tested for impairment at the reporting unit level. The Company has determined that its reporting units for goodwill impairment testing purposes are equivalent to the operating segments used in the Company’s segment reporting (see Note 21 to the consolidated financial statements). In performing tests for goodwill impairment, the Company is permitted to first perform a qualitative assessment about the likelihood of the carrying value of a reporting unit exceeding its fair value. If an entity determines that it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount based on the qualitative assessment, it is required to perform the two-step goodwill impairment test described below to identify the potential goodwill impairment and measure the amount of the goodwill impairment loss, if any, to be recognized for that reporting unit. However, if an entity concludes otherwise based on the qualitative assessment, the two-step goodwill impairment test is not required. The option to perform the qualitative assessment can be utilized at the Company’s discretion, and the qualitative assessment need not be applied to all reporting units in a given goodwill impairment test. For an individual reporting unit, if the Company elects not to perform the qualitative assessment, or if the qualitative assessment indicates that it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, then the Company must perform the two-step goodwill impairment test for the reporting unit.
In applying the two-step process, the first step used to identify potential impairment involves comparing the reporting unit’s estimated fair value to its carrying value, including goodwill. For this purpose, the Company uses a discounted cash flow approach to develop the estimated fair value of each reporting unit. Management judgment is required in developing the assumptions for the discounted cash flow model. These assumptions include revenue growth rates, profit margins, future capital expenditures, working capital needs, discount rates and perpetual growth rates. If the estimated fair value of a reporting unit exceeds its carrying value, goodwill is not impaired. If the carrying value exceeds the estimated fair value, there is an indication of potential impairment and the second step is performed to measure the amount of impairment, if any.
The second step of the process involves the calculation of an implied fair value of goodwill for each reporting unit for which step one indicated potential impairment. The implied fair value of goodwill is determined in a manner similar to how goodwill is calculated in a business combination. That is, the estimated fair value of the reporting unit, as calculated in step one, is allocated to the individual assets and liabilities as if the reporting unit was being acquired in a business combination. If the implied fair value of goodwill exceeds the carrying value of goodwill assigned to the reporting unit, there is no impairment. If the carrying value of goodwill assigned to a reporting unit exceeds the implied fair value of the goodwill, an impairment charge is recorded to write down the carrying value. An impairment loss cannot exceed the carrying value of goodwill assigned to a reporting unit and the loss establishes a new basis in the goodwill. Subsequent reversal of an impairment loss is not permitted.
The discount rate, sales growth and profitability assumptions, and perpetual growth rate are the material assumptions utilized in the discounted cash flow model used to estimate the fair value of each reporting unit. The Company’s discount rate reflects a weighted average cost of capital (“WACC”) for a peer group of companies in the chemical manufacturing industry with an equity size premium added, as applicable, for each reporting unit. The WACC is calculated based on observable market data. Some of this data (such as the risk-free or Treasury rate and the pre-tax cost of debt) are based on market data at a point in time. Other data (such as beta and the equity risk premium) are based upon market data over time.

35


The discounted cash flow analysis requires estimates, assumptions and judgments about future events. The Company’s analysis uses internally generated budgets and long-range forecasts. The Company’s discounted cash flow analysis uses the assumptions in these budgets and forecasts about sales trends, inflation, working capital needs and forecasted capital expenditures along with an estimate of the reporting unit’s terminal value (the value of the reporting unit at the end of the forecast period) to determine the fair value of each reporting unit. The Company’s assumptions about working capital needs and capital expenditures are based on historical experience. The perpetual growth rate assumed in the discounted cash flow model is consistent with the long-term growth rate as measured by the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and the industry’s long-term rate of growth.
The Company’s methodology used for valuing its reporting units for the purpose of its goodwill impairment test is consistent with the prior year. The Company believes the assumptions used in its discounted cash flow analysis are appropriate and result in reasonable estimates of the fair value of each reporting unit. However, the Company may not meet its sales growth and profitability targets, working capital needs and capital expenditures may be higher than forecast, changes in credit markets may result in changes to the Company’s discount rate and general business conditions may result in changes to the Company’s terminal value assumptions for its reporting units.
In performing the October 31, 2014 annual goodwill impairment test, the Company elected to utilize the qualitative assessment for all of its reporting units with the exception of its refrigerants business in the All Other Operations business segment, for which the Company proceeded directly to performing the first step of the two-step goodwill impairment test. The assessment for all reporting units did not indicate that any of the reporting units’ goodwill was potentially impaired. See Note 7 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements included in Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” for details of the annual goodwill impairment test.
Business Insurance Reserves
The Company has established insurance programs to cover workers’ compensation, business automobile and general liability claims. During fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013, these programs had deductible limits of $1 million per occurrence. For fiscal 2016, the deductible limits are expected to remain at $1 million per occurrence. The Company reserves for its deductible based on individual claim evaluations, establishing loss estimates for known claims based on the current facts and circumstances. These known claims are then “developed” through actuarial computations to reflect the expected ultimate loss for the known claims as well as incurred but not reported claims. Actuarial computations use the Company’s specific loss history, payment patterns and insurance coverage, plus industry trends and other factors to estimate the required reserve for all open claims by policy year and loss type. Reserves for the Company’s deductible are evaluated monthly. Semi-annually, the Company obtains a third-party actuarial report to validate that the computations and assumptions used are consistent with actuarial standards. Certain assumptions used in the actuarial computations are susceptible to change. Loss development factors are influenced by items such as medical inflation, changes in workers’ compensation laws and changes in the Company’s loss payment patterns, all of which can have a significant influence on the estimated ultimate loss related to the Company’s deductible. Accordingly, the ultimate resolution of open claims may be for amounts that differ from the reserve balances. The Company’s operations are spread across a significant number of locations, which helps to mitigate the potential impact of any given event that could give rise to an insurance-related loss. Over the last three years, business insurance expense has been approximately 0.5% of net sales.
Income Taxes
At March 31, 2015, the Company had deferred tax assets of $135 million (net of an immaterial valuation allowance), deferred tax liabilities of $932 million and $21 million of unrecognized income tax benefits associated with uncertain tax positions (see Note 5 to the consolidated financial statements).
The Company estimates income taxes based on diverse legislative and regulatory structures that exist in various jurisdictions where the Company conducts business. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases, and operating loss carryforwards. The Company evaluates deferred tax assets each period to ensure that estimated future taxable income will be sufficient in character (e.g., capital gain versus ordinary income treatment), amount and timing to result in their recovery. Valuation allowances are recorded to reduce deferred tax assets when it is more likely than not that a tax benefit will not be realized. Considerable judgments are required in establishing deferred tax valuation allowances and in assessing exposures related to tax matters. The ultimate realization of deferred tax assets is dependent upon the generation of future taxable income during the periods in which those temporary differences and carryforward deferred tax assets become deductible or utilized. Management considers the reversal of taxable temporary differences and projected future taxable income in making this assessment. As events and circumstances change, related reserves and valuation allowances are adjusted to income at that time. Based upon the level of historical taxable income and projections for future taxable income over the periods during which the deferred tax assets reverse, at March 31, 2015, management believes it is more likely than not that the Company will realize the benefits of these deductible differences, net of the existing valuation allowances.

36


Unrecognized income tax benefits represent income tax positions taken on income tax returns that have not been recognized in the consolidated financial statements. The Company recognizes the benefit of an income tax position only if it is more likely than not (greater than 50%) that the tax position will be sustained upon tax examination, based solely on the technical merits of the tax position. Otherwise, no benefit is recognized. The tax benefits recognized are measured based on the largest benefit that has a greater than 50% likelihood of being realized upon ultimate settlement. Additionally, the Company accrues interest and related penalties, if applicable, on all tax exposures for which reserves have been established consistent with jurisdictional tax laws. Interest and penalties are classified as income tax expense in the consolidated statements of earnings. The Company does not anticipate significant changes in the amount of unrecognized income tax benefits over the next year.
Contractual Obligations
The following table presents the Company’s contractual obligations as of March 31, 2015:
(In thousands)
 
 
Payments Due or Commitment Expiration by Period
Contractual Obligations (b)
Total
 
Less Than 1 Year (a)
 
1 to 3 Years (a)
 
4 to 5 Years (a)
 
More than 5
Years (a)
Long-term debt (1)
$
2,000,163

 
$
250,147

 
$
870,406

 
$
329,610

 
$
550,000

Estimated interest payments on long-term debt (2)
228,923

 
45,239

 
67,530

 
50,129

 
66,025

Non-compete agreements (3)
18,381

 
6,825

 
9,808

 
1,748

 

Letters of credit (4)
50,875

 
50,875

 

 

 

Operating leases (5)
408,620

 
104,273

 
163,848

 
88,317

 
52,182

Purchase obligations:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Liquid bulk gas supply agreements (6)
961,551

 
200,842

 
365,240

 
220,971

 
174,498

Liquid carbon dioxide supply agreements (7)
168,315

 
20,386

 
28,850

 
17,921

 
101,158

Construction commitments (8)
83,248

 
47,146

 
36,102

 

 

Other purchase commitments (9)
18,049

 
18,049

 

 

 

Total Contractual Obligations
$
3,938,125

 
$
743,782

 
$
1,541,784

 
$
708,696

 
$
943,863

____________________
(a) 
The “Less Than 1 Year” column relates to obligations due in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016. The “1 to 3 Years” column relates to obligations due in fiscal years ending March 31, 2017 and 2018. The “4 to 5 Years” column relates to obligations due in fiscal years ending March 31, 2019 and 2020. The “More than 5 Years” column relates to obligations due beyond March 31, 2020.
(b) 
At March 31, 2015, the Company had $25 million related to unrecognized income tax benefits, including accrued interest and penalties. These liabilities are not included in the above table, as the Company cannot make reasonable estimates with respect to the timing of their ultimate resolution. See Note 5 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” for further information on the Company’s unrecognized income tax benefits.
(1) 
Aggregate long-term debt instruments are reflected in the consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 2015. The Senior Notes are presented at their maturity values rather than their carrying values, which are net of aggregate discounts of $1.4 million at March 31, 2015. Long-term debt includes capital lease obligations, which were not material and therefore, did not warrant separate disclosure.
(2) 
The future interest payments on the Company’s long-term debt obligations were estimated based on the current outstanding principal reduced by scheduled maturities in each period presented and interest rates as of March 31, 2015. The actual interest payments may differ materially from those presented above based on actual amounts of long-term debt outstanding and actual interest rates in future periods.
(3) 
Non-compete agreements are obligations of the Company to make scheduled future payments, generally to former owners of acquired businesses, contingent upon their compliance with the covenants of the non-compete agreements.
(4) 
Letters of credit are guarantees of payment to third parties. The Company’s letters of credit principally back obligations associated with the Company’s deductible on workers’ compensation, business automobile and general liability claims. The letters of credit are supported by the Company’s Credit Facility.
(5) 
The Company’s operating leases at March 31, 2015 include approximately $283 million in fleet vehicles under long-term operating leases. The Company guarantees a residual value of $29 million related to its leased vehicles.

37


(6) 
In addition to the gas volumes produced internally, the Company purchases industrial, medical and specialty gases pursuant to requirements under contracts from national and regional producers of industrial gases. The Company is a party to take-or-pay supply agreements under which Air Products will supply the Company with bulk nitrogen, oxygen, argon, hydrogen and helium. The Company is committed to purchase a minimum of approximately $66 million in bulk gases within the next fiscal year under the Air Products supply agreements. The agreements expire at various dates through 2020. The Company also has take-or-pay supply agreements with Linde to purchase oxygen, nitrogen, argon and helium. The agreements expire at various dates through 2025 and represent approximately $99 million in minimum bulk gas purchases for the next fiscal year. Additionally, the Company has take-or-pay supply agreements to purchase oxygen, nitrogen, argon, helium and ammonia from other major producers. Minimum purchases under these contracts for the next fiscal year are approximately $36 million and they expire at various dates through 2024. The level of annual purchase commitments under the Company’s supply agreements beyond the next fiscal year vary based on the expiration of agreements at different dates in the future, among other factors.
The Company’s annual purchase commitments under all of its supply agreements reflect estimates based on fiscal 2015 purchases. The Company’s supply agreements contain periodic pricing adjustments, most of which are based on certain economic indices and market analyses. The Company believes the minimum product purchases under the agreements are within the Company’s normal product purchases. Actual purchases in future periods under the supply agreements could differ materially from those presented due to fluctuations in demand requirements related to varying sales levels as well as changes in economic conditions.
(7) 
The Company is a party to take-or-pay supply agreements for the purchase of liquid carbon dioxide with twelve suppliers that expire at various dates through 2044 and represent minimum purchases of approximately $20 million for the next fiscal year. The purchase commitments for future periods contained in the table above reflect estimates based on fiscal 2015 purchases. The Company believes the minimum product purchases under the agreements are within the Company’s normal product purchases. Actual purchases in future periods under the liquid carbon dioxide supply agreements could differ materially from those presented in the table due to fluctuations in demand requirements related to varying sales levels as well as changes in economic conditions. Certain of the liquid carbon dioxide supply agreements contain market pricing subject to certain economic indices.
(8) 
Construction commitments represent long-term agreements with two customers to construct on-site air separation units. The units will be located in Calvert City, KY and Tuscaloosa, AL.
(9) 
Other purchase commitments represent agreements to purchase property, plant and equipment.
Accounting Pronouncements Issued But Not Yet Adopted
See Note 2 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements under Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” for information concerning new accounting guidance and the potential impact on the Company’s financial statements.
Forward-looking Statements
This report contains statements that are forward looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, the Company’s expectations regarding its 2016 fiscal year organic sales growth and earnings per diluted share; the Company’s belief as to the future demand for, sales of, and increased pricing of its reclaimed and recycled R-22; the Company’s belief as to its enhanced ability to supply customers with helium; the Company’s belief that it will not be necessary to repatriate cash held outside of the U.S. by its foreign subsidiaries; the Company’s belief that it has sufficient liquidity from cash from operations and under its revolving credit facilities to meet its working capital, capital expenditure and other financial commitments; the Company’s belief that it can obtain financing on reasonable terms; the Company’s future dividend declarations; the Company’s estimate that for every 25 basis point increase in the Company’s average variable borrowing rates, the Company estimates that its annual interest expense would increase by approximately $1.7 million; the estimate of future interest payments on the Company’s long-term debt obligations; and the Company’s exposure to foreign currency exchange fluctuations.
Forward-looking statements also include any statement that is not based on historical fact, including statements containing the words “believes,” “may,” “plans,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “estimates,” “continues,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “expects,” and similar expressions. The Company intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. All forward-looking statements are based on current expectations regarding important risk factors and should not be regarded as a representation by the Company or any other person that the results expressed therein will be achieved. Airgas assumes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements for any reason, except as required by law. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement include: the impact from the decline in oil prices on our customers; adverse changes in customer buying patterns or weakening in the operating and financial performance of the Company’s customers, any of which could negatively impact the Company’s sales and ability to collect its accounts receivable; postponement of projects due to economic conditions and uncertainty in the energy

38


sector; the impact of the strong dollar on the Company’s manufacturer customers that export; customer acceptance of price increases; increases in energy costs and other operating expenses at a faster rate than the Company’s ability to increase prices; changes in customer demand resulting in the Company’s inability to meet minimum product purchase requirements under long-term supply agreements and the inability to negotiate alternative supply arrangements; supply cost pressures; shortages and/or disruptions in the supply chain of certain gases; the ability of the Company to pass on to its customers its increased costs of selling helium; EPA rulings and the impact in the marketplace of U.S. compliance with the Montreal Protocol as related to the production and import of Refrigerant-22 (also known as HCFC-22 or R-22); the Company’s ability to successfully build, complete in a timely manner and operate its new facilities; higher than expected expenses associated with the expansion of the Company’s telesales business, e-Business platform, the adjustment of its regional management structures, its strategic pricing initiatives and other strategic growth initiatives; increased industry competition; the Company’s ability to successfully identify, consummate, and integrate acquisitions; the Company’s ability to achieve anticipated acquisition synergies; operating costs associated with acquired businesses; the Company’s continued ability to access credit markets on satisfactory terms; significant fluctuations in interest rates; the impact of changes in credit market conditions on the Company’s customers; the Company’s ability to effectively leverage its SAP system to improve the operating and financial performance of its business; changes in tax and fiscal policies and laws; increased expenditures relating to compliance with environmental and other regulatory initiatives; the impact of new environmental, healthcare, tax, accounting, and other regulations; the overall U.S. industrial economy; catastrophic events and/or severe weather conditions; and political and economic uncertainties associated with current world events.

39


ITEM 7A.
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK.
Interest Rate Risk
The Company manages its exposure to changes in market interest rates through the occasional use of interest rate derivative instruments, when deemed appropriate. The interest rate exposure arises primarily from the interest payment terms of the Company’s borrowing agreements. Interest rate derivatives are used to adjust the interest rate risk exposures that are inherent in its portfolio of funding sources. The Company has not established, and will not establish, any interest rate risk positions for purposes other than managing the risk associated with its portfolio of funding sources or anticipated funding sources. The counterparties to interest rate derivatives are major financial institutions. The Company has established counterparty credit guidelines and only enters into transactions with financial institutions with long-term credit ratings of at least a single ‘A’ rating by one of the major credit rating agencies. In addition, the Company monitors its position and the credit ratings of its counterparties, thereby minimizing the risk of non-performance by the counterparties. The Company had no interest rate derivative instruments outstanding at March 31, 2015.
The following table summarizes the Company’s market risks associated with debt obligations at March 31, 2015. The table presents cash flows related to payments of principal and interest by fiscal year of maturity. Fair values were computed using market quotes, if available, or based on discounted cash flows using market interest rates as of the end of the period.
(In millions)
3/31/2016
 
3/31/2017
 
3/31/2018
 
3/31/2019
 
3/31/2020
 
Thereafter
 
Total
 
Fair Value
Fixed Rate Debt:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 10/1/2015
$
250.0

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
250.0

 
$
252.5

Interest expense
4.1

 

 

 

 

 

 
4.1

 
 
Interest rate
3.25
%
 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 6/15/2016
$

 
$
250.0

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
250.0

 
$
255.0

Interest expense
7.4

 
1.5

 

 

 

 

 
8.9

 
 
Interest rate
2.95
%
 
2.95
%
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 2/15/2018
$

 
$

 
$
325.0

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
325.0

 
$
323.9

Interest expense
5.4

 
5.4

 
4.7

 

 

 

 
15.5

 
 
Interest rate
1.65
%
 
1.65
%
 
1.65
%
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 2/15/2020
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
275.0

 
$

 
$
275.0

 
$
274.8

Interest expense
6.5

 
6.5

 
6.5

 
6.5

 
5.7

 

 
31.7

 
 
Interest rate
2.38
%
 
2.38
%
 
2.38
%
 
2.38
%
 
2.38
%
 

 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 11/15/2022
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
250.0

 
$
250.0

 
$
249.0

Interest expense
7.3

 
7.3

 
7.3

 
7.3

 
7.3

 
19.0

 
55.5

 
 
Interest rate
2.90
%
 
2.90
%
 
2.90
%
 
2.90
%
 
2.90
%
 
2.90
%
 
 
 
 
Senior notes due 7/15/2024
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
300.0

 
$
300.0

 
$
310.5

Interest expense
$
11.0

 
$
11.0

 
$
11.0

 
$
11.0

 
$
11.0

 
$
47.0

 
$
102.0

 
 
Interest rate
3.65
%
 
3.65
%
 
3.65
%
 
3.65
%
 
3.65
%
 
3.65
%
 
 
 
 


40


(In millions)
3/31/2016
 
3/31/2017
 
3/31/2018
 
3/31/2019
 
3/31/2020
 
Thereafter
 
Total
 
Fair Value
Variable Rate Debt:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
</