Pilkington slides

Pilkington suffered a 16 per cent fall in annual profits last year as prices tumbled in Europe and North America, the company announced today.Chief executive Stuart Chambers insisted the results were robust in the toughest conditions for years.

Trading in the UK was strong, boosted by rising sales of its “K” energy-efficient glass for homes and offices, following revised building regulations designed to reduce heat loss.

Investment to increase the output of this glass was made at the Cowley Hill coating line in St Helens.

Pre-tax profits at the St Helens-based giant slipped from £183m to £153m in the year to March 31 before exceptionals and goodwill payments.

Turnover from continuing operations was unchanged at £2.8bn. The final dividend is 3.25p, making a total of 5p for the year.

Sales in Pilkington’s building products division fell one per cent to £1.452bn.

Profits were down because of lower selling prices amid the economic slowdown affecting Europe, North and South America.

However, glass sales for the automotive industry rose one per cent to £1.287bn. Turnover in Europe was boosted by new trends in vehicle design, including all-glass sunroofs.

Pilkington’s aerospace division increased its share of the military aircraft orders which helped offset the continuing sales decline in the civil sector. Sales were around £45m.

Speculation about the possiblity of Pilkington selling the non-core arm persists.

Mr Chambers said: “If someone in the aerospace sector was able to offer a very good price, clearly we would consider that.”

In the boardroom, director Andrew Robb is stepping down.

600450 Pilkington slides glassonweb.com

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