John Langlands, chief executive of the Greenock-based group, said the dramatic swings in polymer costs “came as a surprise to us” as he announced an adjusted pre-tax profit of £17.4 million for the six months to 30 June, up from £16m a year ago.
He told The Scotsman: “We would see this as a good performance against the headwinds of significant raw material price increases and currency movements, with the weaker euro.”
Despite a sharp decline in crude prices since last year, Langlands said polymer costs, which had been falling at the start of the year, went on to hit a record high in euro terms during the first-half period.
“This arose following a rise in the duty on importing polymers into Europe from the Middle East, the movement in exchange rates between the euro and dollar, and reduced production at polymer plants,” he said.
However, Langlands added that BPI, which will pay an interim dividend of 6p a share on 13 November – up from 5p last year – believes that prices have peaked and will begin to ease over the coming months.
He said the firm’s operations in North American moved back into profit in the first half and its UK business benefited from a capital investment programme. BPI has spent about £5m installing new equipment at its Ardeer plant in North Ayrshire, which employs about 200 people.
Analysts at Investec, which has forecast a 7.6 per cent rise in annual operating profits to £27m, described BPI’s results as “solid” in the face of “the most difficult end markets for polymer prices in the company’s history”.