Technology licensing and manufacturing efficiency boost six-month figures.

Glass-maker Pilkington says it expects to see an increase in pre-tax profits of 20% for the six months to September 30 on the same period in 2004. It said that despite challenging market conditions being made more difficult by rising energy costs it remained on track to meet expectations for the year.

Chief executive Stuart Chambers said: "Pilkington continues to deliver ongoing improvements in manufacturing efficiency and cost reduction. Results for the underlying core business in the first half-year are in line with our expectations."

Analysts are predicting a profit of £196 m for the 12 months to March 31 2006, compared with £184 m for the last year. Improved manufacturing efficiency and well-timed licensing and engineering receipts helped buoy first-half profit.

Pilkington employs approximately 24,000 people in Birmingham and Doncaster.