UK glass maker Pilkington posts higher profits

The world's second-biggest glass maker, Pilkington Plc (PILK.L: Quote, Profile, Research) , posted an 11 percent rise in first-half profit on Wednesday, at the top of market forecasts despite weakness in its main car and construction markets.

The British firm, inventor of the float process that revolutionised glass-making about half a century ago, said trading would remain difficult in most of its markets.

"In overall average terms in the next six to 12 months we are not expecting any help from the markets," Chief Executive Stuart Chambers told reporters during a call.

Greater efficiency, improved yields and a slimmed-down workforce drove profits, he said.

Pilkington, second in size only to France's Saint-Gobain (SGOB.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) , is in the midst of a three-stage turnaround. It has cut about a third of its work force -- around 14,000 jobs -- since 1996 as it refocused onto its two main markets of cars and construction and then grappled with an economic slump.

Pilkington's shares rose 1.2 percent to 87-3/4 pence at 1001 GMT, giving it a market value of about 1.13 billion pounds. It has outperformed rivals in the construction and building index (.FTBM: Quote, Profile, Research) by about eight percent since the first of the year.

The firm reported pre-tax profit before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items of 84 million pounds ($141 million) in the six months to September 30. That compares with analyst estimates of between 76.6 million and 84.0 million pounds, with a consensus of 82.5 million pounds.

Just over half of Pilkington's sales were in Europe and about 35 percent in North America.

600450 UK glass maker Pilkington posts higher profits

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