Pilkington sees continuing tough trading

Pilkington has warned that tough market conditions will persist for most of the coming year as the glassmaker benefited from cost-cutting measures to report a small increase in annual profits.

The company's major customers, carmakers and builders, have slashed orders due to a global economic slowdown but Pilkington still eked out a three percent rise in pre-tax profit before exceptionals and goodwill to 228 million pounds.Analysts' forecasts had ranged from 220 to 230 million pounds, with the consensus around 226 million pounds, for the year ended March 31."The efficiencies we've put in over the past five years have really equipped us very well to withstand these difficult market conditions," new Chief Executive Stuart Chambers told reporters.

"The Pilkington of five years ago would really have struggled in this downturn," he said in a conference call.

Chambers this month took over from Paolo Scaroni, credited with rescuing the firm five years ago, who quit to become boss of Italy's state-owned electricity group Enel.

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