Tire and wheel maker Titan International Inc.'s profits and revenues dropped in 2001, as unfavorable economic and market conditions translated into a difficult year for the firm.
In the 12-month period ended Dec. 31, Titan posted a net loss of $34.8 million compared with year-earlier profits of $4.5 million, as sales declined 15.8-percent to $457.5 million, the company announced Feb. 20.
Titan had a net loss of $21.5 million on sales of $100.6 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $8 million and sales of $113.4 million posted in the year-earlier period.
Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan president and CEO, said 2001 was not a good year for the company, but he believes it can return to the black in 2002. The firm has solid tire and wheel business lined up with equipment makers and their dealers in the farm and construction industries, Taylor said, including Caterpillar Inc., John Deere & Co., CNH Global N.V., Ingersoll-Rand Co. and Kubota Tractor Corp.
A recent deal with Kubota allows Titan to send its tire and wheel assemblies directly to dealers, who will prepare the Kubota equipment for sale. The dealers can offer the Titan products as both OE or replacement parts, Taylor said.
The firm also has labor peace as a result of new contracts running into 2006 with workers at Titan tire plants in Des Moines, Iowa, and Natchez, Miss. Both United Steelworkers locals struck in 1998, and both disputes were settled in 2001.
But the company did take a nearly $6.8 million hit for strike settlement costs in the fourth quarter.
Titan spent much of the fourth quarter getting the union workers in Des Moines back into the plant, and the influx of about 300 employees into the mix made production less efficient than it would have liked, Taylor said. He expects production and efficiency to grow in 2002.
The Natchez factory was mothballed because of reduced demand caused by the poor economic conditions during the year, but could be used as an overflow plant once business picks up again. Taylor said he'll make a decision on the Natchez facility's future by the end of 2002.