Pilkington - the country's biggest glassmaker with a plant at Kings Norton in Birmingham - was in upbeat mood yesterday, forecasting a 15 per cent rise in annual profits.
"Overall, trading remains in line with our expectations, with a good performance in automotive and building products holding up," chief executive Stuart Chambers said in a trading update that lifted the company's shares.
"Together with lower interest costs and an improved profit contribution from joint ventures and associates, this should lead to an increase in pretax profits of around 15 per cent."
That should take pretax profit for the year to March 31 to around £173 million from the £151 million the company earned last year. The results are due on May 26.
A consensus forecast of 14 analysts polled by the company had estimated pretax profit at £161.8 million.
Pilkington, inventor of a float process that revolutionised glassmaking half a century ago, said its main European building products market remained very competitive, but trading was holding up or improving elsewhere, leaving the division's operating profits broadly unchanged.
Its automotive division should boost operating profits by 15 per cent on last year after reducing costs. It said the group's share of profits from joint ventures rose by ten per cent, in particular from Cebrace - its Brazilian joint venture with Saint Gobain - and Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington.
Pilkington has already slashed costs to focus on its main car and construction markets, and generated cash to pay down debt.