The engineering group, Georg Fischer, says it still aims to beat last year's results after revealing only a slight increase in first-half net profits.
The Schaffhausen-based company said on Monday that over the first six months of this year sales rose to SFr2.042 billion ($1.16 billion) from SFr1.821 billion in the same period last year.
It said earnings before tax and interest were SFr133 million in the first-half compared with SFr121 million last year, while net profit rose slightly to SFr73 million from SFr70 million.
"After a very good first quarter we are seeing a cyclical downturn in important markets," the company said in a statement.
"The further development of the economy, especially the important German market, is hard to predict. Even in this difficult market environment we are still focusing our efforts on beating the good results of the financial year 2000," it added.
In 2000 the company ended the year with a net profit of SFr151 million.
Bank Leu's Eleonore Charrez told swissinfo that despite the increase in numbers over the first half, sales and net profit still came in below analysts' expectations.
"The numbers are very positive but are below analysts' estimates which means the company is feeling the worldwide downturn," explained Charrez, "Remember that Fischer's business is very dependent on the car industry - the start of the year was tough for the autos so Georg Fischer is also feeling the economic downturn from this."
Fischer said it had implanted expansion measures aimed at strengthening the piping systems and manufacturing technology divisions. It also said the automotive products division was developing significantly better than the market.
"The downturn in the United States and in Southeast Asia is also making itself felt in Europe. However, economic forecasts and projections are ambiguous and different for individual industries," it added.
Eleonore Charrez explained that the outlook for the rest of 2001 remains subdued.
"The economic pickup is not certain, every one is hoping for it in the fourth quarter but we might have to wait till next year," said Charrez. "Fischer will probably beat its net profit figure from last year but at a lower number than expcted."
The engineering group will celebrate its 200th birthday next year. It currently employs more than 14,000 employees worldwide, and is present in present in more than 100 countries.
swissinfo with agencies