Pilkington insulated against downturn

St .Helens based glass maker Pilkington shrugged aside difficult trading conditions at its UK building products division to predict a 15 per cent rise in full year profits today.

The group said building demand elsewhere in Europe had started to improve slowly and contributed to trading remaining in line with expectations.In an update ahead of results for the year to March 31, Pilkington said it was on track to start investing surplus cash into its growth during the next financial year.Pilkington, which is one of the world's largest glass makers, said building products markets in Europe were still very competitive as high supply levels of glass kept prices at record low levels.While conditions has started to improve in the rest of Europe, the UK remained difficult.An ongoing cost reduction plan was helping to mitigate the effect of variable trading conditions.

The group said: "Overall, trading remains in line with our expectations, with a good performance in automotive and building products holding up."

Pre-tax profits are now expected to be around 15 per cent up on last year's £151 million, beating analysts' forecasts of £161 million.

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