Johnson Matthey, the world's biggest supplier of catalytic converters, beat forecasts with a 24 per cent rise in first-half profit, helped by higher average metals prices, and said it expected results from the second half to be stronger.
The speciality chemicals company said it saw an improved return on sales thanks to increased plant utilisation across the group and the effect of higher average precious metals prices over the period, which helped offset the impact of higher rare earth prices on parts of its autocatalyst business.
Underlying profit before tax came in at £203m, ahead of a consensus of analysts' forecasts of £194.1m, from a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Underlying earnings per share rose 29 per cent to 72.8p, again just above expectations.
"The short term prospects for the global economy are difficult to predict. Nonetheless we believe that Johnson Matthey is well placed and we currently anticipate that the group's results in the second half will be slightly ahead of those for the first six months of the year," chief executive Neil Carson said.
"Notwithstanding current macroeconomic uncertainties, the drivers for our business remain robust."
Johnson Matthey said in July that its first half performance to the end of September would be "significantly ahead" of the year-ago period, thanks to resilient demand.
City A.M. Reporter