Pilkington says trading in line with expectations

British glass-maker Pilkington Plc PILK.L said on Thursday that trading was in line with expectations despite tough conditions in most of its major markets, sending its shares up four percent.

"Our headline profitability is set to see a continuation of the consistent level reported in each of the last two financial half-years," the company's Chief Executive Stuart Chambers said in a statement.

Pilkington -- hard hit as major customers, automakers and builders, cut orders -- posted half-year pre-tax profits before amortisation and exceptional items of 76 million pounds ($120 million) on October 30. On May 29, the firm will post results for the full year ended March 31.

The company, with manufacturing operations in 25 countries and sales in 130, tried to assure investors that its pensions were safe, since the vast majority of employees were covered under defined contribution schemes.

"Pilkington is ... relatively well placed to cope with the consequences of declines in stock markets worldwide, which have had a marked effect on many company pension schemes," the firm said.

Pension liabilities among large companies are being closely watched by investors, as the funds built up to pay them come under pressure from falling markets.

Shares were up four percent at 52 pence at 0828 GMT.

Profits at Pilkington's building products unit, with about 50 percent of total sales, would be down about 20 percent in the year ended March 31, amid sluggish international economic conditions and in particular in Germany, it said.

Nevertheless, North American automotive glass sales, 25 percent of total worldwide automotive sales, saw significant improvements, it added.

600450 Pilkington says trading in line with expectations glassonweb.com
Date: 28 March 2003
Source: Reuters

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