Volume 36, Issue 6,  June 2001



                            latest news developments

Pilkington Announces Results for Year Ending March 31, 2001

Pilkington plc of the United Kingdom recently saw a slump in its shares. According to a news release, Pilkington “confirmed fears that uncertainty in the U.S. and European market is weakening the market for glass.” The company also said “activity in its U.S. markets is slowing markedly and has seen recent signs of softening in European markets for both automotive and building products,” the release added. 

According to the financial statement, operating profit before exceptional items, including Pilkington’s share of joint ventures and associates, was 288 million pounds compared to 238 million pounds in 2000—an increase of 28 percent. Exchange rate movement reduced reported profits before exceptional items and taxation to 216 million pounds, compared with 175 million pounds in 2000.

Pilkington also reported that earnings per share before exceptional items increased by 19 percent to 10.8 pounds, compared to 9.1 pounds in 2000. The company says its board is recommending a final dividend of 3.25 pounds per share, which would make the total for the year 5 pounds per share, the same as in 2000. The final dividend, with script alternative, will be paid August 10 to shareholders of record June 15.
In its building products operations of Europe and the Middle East, Pilkington saw its sales and profits from fire-protection glass products continue to grow, and expanded its German production facilities to help meet the demand. 

In its North American building products operations, profits were affected by the threefold-rise in natural gases and the repair of two out of its six float plants in North America. Pilkington says prior to the repairs, production performance was considerably less than standard.

In Mexico, Vitro Plan SA de CV (VVP), of which Pilkington owns 35 percent, also increased its revenues due to high volumes in the domestic construction market, but mostly due to the incorporation of Harding Glass, which it acquired at the beginning of the year.

Sales in its automotive parts segment, including joint ventures and associates, were 1.4 billion pounds, a 5-percent increase compared to last year. Operating profits also improved by 14 percent, reaching 91 million pounds. In Europe, Pilkington says despite a volume slowdown in the third quarter, its automotive glass replacement business still reported record results.

In North America, the company’s automotive business saw a significant slowdown in the second half of the year. Manufacturing performance continued to improve, though, as a result of the company’s Step Change program with a corresponding beneficial impact on profitability, Pilkington said.

The company added that in the United States recent automotive production has been curtailed, and activity in the building market is significantly lower than it was at this time last year.
In other news, Pilkington also announced its plans to construct a float glass plant in Iran.

C.R. Laurence Acquires Stamford Glazing Supplies
Los Angeles-based C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. (CRL) has announced that it has acquired Stamford Glazing Supplies headquartered in the Vancouver, B.C. area. Having been in the glazing business since 1955, Stamford is a supplier to the Vancouver-area glass industry, and also has a branch in Alberta.

“This acquisition is an integral part of our continuing commitment to the Canadian market,” said CRL president and chief executive officer Don Friese. “… We are pleased that all personnel from Stamford will be joining the CRL team at the Richmond facility. Mike Taylor, who served Stamford for 25 years, will assume a special role with CRL to help us build our business in the Vancouver area.

“As part of our acquisition and our commitment to the Canadian market, CRL will be building a new 30,000-square-foot modern warehouse to serve the Calgary/Alberta area,” he added.
The acquisition of Stamford gives CRL four locations in Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Glass Companies Subpoenaed for Price-Fixing in Automotive Finish Industry
Several manufacturers of automotive finishes, that are also involved in the glass business, have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department for alleged price-fixing in the automotive refinishing business. Among the subpoenaed companies were Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Co., Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. and Akzo Nobel NV of the Netherlands.

According to PPG spokesman John Ruch, this should not affect the company’s glass business. When asked if PPG had faced similar investigations in its glass division in the past, Ruch said he wasn’t certain whether it had or not. At press time, he was looking into the matter.

PPG has conducted its own investigation of the allegations and Ruch said it found no support for the allegation within the company. “We found no indication here that anyone had done anything outside the law,” he said.
The company is uncertain when it will receive a confirmation or negation of the claims of the subpoena. “The subpoenas were issued in January and we haven’t heard anything since, so who knows?” he added. “Sometimes you never get an answer … We said we would cooperate and we did, and we haven’t heard anything more.”


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