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Titan records 4Q, full-year losses despite increased sales

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Titan International Inc. recorded a net loss of $9.2 million on net sales of $120.5 million for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2003. That compares to a net loss of $15.7 million on net sales of $108.6 million for the same period the previous year.

For the fiscal year, Titan posted a $36.6 million loss on net sales of $491.6 million; sales increased 6.2% vs. 2002.

The 2003 financial results demonstrated improvement year-over-year on a pre-tax basis, according to CEO and President Morry Taylor.

"The operating results achieved in the fourth quarter confirm that Titan is making progress toward our goals of profitability."

Taylor says Titan's orders, which started to pick up in December, have continued to surge following its January price increase. "Although the percentages of these increases vary, raw material cost hikes are covered and margins should improve."

Titan increased capacity at its Quincy, Ill., wheel facility in 2003, and plans to expand capacity at its Des Moines, Iowa, tire plant this year.

"Titan has experienced a number of changes and we believe it is time for growth," says Taylor. "Tough consolidations were executed during 2003, and, as a result, 2004 has demonstrated the strongest beginning we have seen since 1997.

"The volume of agricultural and construction segment back orders should result in a profitable first quarter of 2004. The weakening dollar is great medicine for the manufacturing sector."

Titan is in the process of selling off $37.8 million in assets, including equipment from its former Natchez, Miss., and Brownsville, Texas, tire manufacturing plants.

Titan consolidated all of its tire manufacturing into its Des Moines plant in July. Titan converted the one million-square-foot Brownsville location into a distribution center.

Titan's stock price was $4.91 a share when the New York Stock Exchange closed on Feb. 26. That compares to a 52-week high and low of $5.25 and 62 cents, respectively.

Taylor says he expects Titan Europe to be listed on London's AIM Exchange by the end of the first quarter.

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