The chairman said the company experienced "very tough trading conditions" in all its markets last year, particularly in the second half, but despite this, its profits grew for the fourth consecutive year, "demonstrating how much fitter and more competitive Pilkington has become".
Building products markets continue to be "difficult everywhere, other than the United Kingdom and Australasia", the chairman said. In continental Europe, demand is lower than a year ago, and as a whole float glass prices are approximately 10 pct below average for last year.
In North America, the residential market is "relatively firm", but commercial construction, in which Pilkington has a significant share, is down about 20 pct. But, because of continued restructuring of this business, results are in line with last year. Pilkington's 35 pct Mexican affiliate, VVP, has also been affected by the slowdown in commercial construction in the US, and its results to date are lower than last year, as expected.
In South America, financial and political instability are affecting Pilkington's businesses, but results are still good, the chairman said.
Pilkington's European Automotive glass businesses continue to improve in efficiency and productivity, so that results are tracking last year's performance.
In the Automotive division in North America, the company saw improved results to date of its Original Equipment business, while its Automotive Glass Replacement business is continuing last year's strong performance.
The Automotive businesses in South America, Australasia and China are operating close to or better than last year, despite variable market conditions, the chairman said.