Stringent cost cutting has helped Rexam to edge back into the black for the first half of 2010, with demand for beverage cans returning in major markets.

Rexam said today (28 July) that net profits reached GBP102m (US$159m) for the six months to the end of June, compared to losses of GBP15m in the same period of 2009.

"Our relentless cost control has driven strong profit growth," said the packaging giant's CEO, Graham Chipchase.

The result marks an upturn in Rexam's fortunes after a tough 2009 in which the firm felt the knock-on effects of falling demand for beer and soft drinks in key markets from Russia to North America.

"We are pleased with our performance in the first half," said Chipchase. "There has been some volume recovery as well as pricing improvement."

Like-for-like sales for the first half of 2010 rose by 2%, representing a limited recovery in volume sales, the firm said.

Net sales, including discontinued business and exchange rate changes, fell to GBP2.49bn against GBP2.51bn last year.

"In most of our businesses, the trading environment is stabilising and the outlook for beverage cans has improved since the start of the year," said Chipchase.

"However, uncertainty persists about the global economic outlook and visibility remains low. We expect our results in the second half of the year to be similar to those of the first."