Shares in Kingspan, a leading producer of insulation in Britain, Ireland, Canada and Australasia, were the top performer in the Irish stock market, rising 10% after it reported a 9% rise in first-half operating profit, defying expectations for a 10% fall.
In 2007, at the height of the property boom, Kingspan generated operating profit of €230m. Britain accounts for over half of group turnover.
Robert Eason, analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers, said Kingspan's strong performance in continental Europe and the United States provided a cushion against UK cutbacks. "It (British austerity) is absolutely a headwind but they are doing better than our expectations in other markets which is more than offsetting that," said Eason, who raised his full-year earnings forecast by 10% after today's results.
Ireland, which used to account for around 10% of turnover but has now dropped to 5%, is suffering from a drought of new building after a record property slump with refurbishments the only bright spot.
Overall, order intake in the second half has slowed from the first half but is still up on 2009, the company said. British rival SIG said in July that sales would stay flat for the rest of the year.
Kingspan's operating profit reached €33.1m in the first half due to cost cutting and an improved sales performance in the second quarter compensating for a weak first quarter when harsh winter weather hit building activity.