Industrial gas supplier Airgas Inc , which is working to stave off a hostile takeover by rival Air Products and Chemicals Inc , posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as sales surged.

Net income for the fiscal third quarter ended December 31 rose to $55.8 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with $46.9 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding one-time items, mostly involving costs of its defense against Air Products, the company earned 80 cents per share. By that measure, analysts had expected earnings of 79 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 9.5 percent to $1.03 billion, matching analysts' expectations.

Air Products also posted better-than-expected earnings on Friday.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)