Brickmaker Hanson said its UK aggregates business was starting to see the benefits of last year's shake-up as it forecast first half operating profits 20 per cent ahead of last year's £165.5 million.
The company, which has quarrying operations in the West Midlands as well as a concrete pipe factory in Wolverhampton, said the aggregates division was on target to reduce annual costs by £10 million.
The group said operating profits and margins at the unit, which has a new management team and has undergone cost cutting, were expected to be significantly higher than during the first six months of 2004.
It said its other big division in the UK, building products, had experienced weaker demand, with first half volumes for traditional-designed brick in 2005 expected to be below the first half of 2004.
However, price increases were achieved and the division's first half operating profits were expected to be above the first six months of 2004.
Hanson said in a trading update ahead of its first half results on August 3: "Overall, Hanson expects further progress in the second half of 2005, albeit against a strong second half in 2004."
Hanson is the world's biggest producer of aggregates and concrete pipes and the third largest ready mixed concrete manufacturer.
The group also makes clay bricks and concrete roof tiles..
Hanson Continental Europe was expecting reduced operating profits in the first half compared to a very strong first half in 2004.