Titan International Inc. was in the black during the second quarter, posting operating earnings of $4 million and net income of $383,000.
The figures are a big improvement over the operating loss of $4.56 million and net loss of nearly $4 million posted in the like period of 2001. Net sales for the quarter increased 4.6 percent from 2001 to $125.8 million, according to the numbers the company reported July 25.
For the half-year, the tire and wheel maker posted a $2.5 million loss on sales of $249.6 million. Year-to-date operating income was $5.06 million, compared to a loss of $738,000 in 2001.
Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan president and CEO, credited the improvement of the agricultural market segment; the strength of foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar; and the company's cost reduction, product development and delivery improvements as factors in the firm's second-quarter turnaround.
It's a decent feeling to stick our head out of the sewer where it had been for the last four years,'' Taylor said, referring to the sales and earnings downturn the company experienced since 1998. A depressed agricultural equipment market and two long strikes at tire plants from 1998 to 2001 contributed heavily to the disappointing financial results.
Titan's agricultural business segment sales increased 12.2 percent during the second quarter to $75.3 million. Sales for the earthmoving and construction segment dropped 6.3 percent to $39.5 million from a year earlier, while the consumer segment remained relatively flat.
Taylor said he expects a more difficult third quarter because of traditional industry shutdowns, but the prospects for the fourth quarter look good. He also expects the 2002 Farm Bill (the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act) to bolster agricultural equipment sales in 2003, thus benefiting the company.
``The aftermarket is picking up, and that's where we want to focus,'' Taylor said. ``We've hired some new sales people, and we plan on hitting the market hard.''
The firm's two active tire plants in Des Moines, Iowa, and Brownsville, Texas, are operating at 70 percent and 25 percent capacity, respectively, according to Taylor. The tire factory in Natchez, Miss., which was mothballed in 2001, won't be reopened until the other two facilities are running closer to full capacity, he said.
The company will review the Natchez issue in October, Taylor added.