Titan International Inc. made some slight financial improvements in 2002, but still is looking for ways to improve its bottom line and raise its sinking stock price.
The Quincy-based tire and wheel maker had a net loss of $35.9 million on sales of $462.8 million during 2002, the company reported in its year-end financials. The reported loss was slightly more than the $34.8 million posted in 2001, though about $12.4 million of the loss was related to investment write-offs.
Titan took a $9.6 million third-quarter reserve for its investment in Fabrica Uruguaya de Neumaticos S.A., a Uruguayan tire company; and a $2.8 million fourth-quarter reserve for an investment in AII Holding Inc., an Illinois-based welding equipment supplier.
Net sales improved about 1 percent in 2002 from the $457.5 million posted the year before. Operating losses for the year totaled $14.1 million, an improvement from $33.5 million in 2001.
For the fourth quarter, sales improved 8 percent from the like period in 2001 to $108.6 million, while the net loss for the quarter improved to $15.7 million from $21.5 million the year before.
The loss from operations also improved during the period to $11.3 million from $24.7 million in 2001's fourth quarter.
``With a 58-percent improvement in annual operating results, Titan's work force should be commended for their ongoing efforts,'' said Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan president and CEO.
``Although Titan's stock has been battered lately, this is not an accurate reflection of the determination and practical strategies being undertaken to return Titan to profitability.''
Titan's stock price closed at 90 cents per share on March 3, the 20th consecutive trading day it had closed at less than $1. Taylor said after 30 days the New York Stock Exchange asks to see company officials and discuss their situation and see what they can do to get the price back over $1. The firm's share price hasn't been above $10 since October 1999.
Taylor said the company will make efforts to cut manufacturing costs and increase product prices to offset rising insurance costs. Titan also will keep capital expenditure and research and development costs down this year, he said.
Fourth-quarter sales growth also should continue into 2003, Taylor said.
``I personally have seen the enthusiasm of equipment dealers joining our program to offer Titan wheel and tire assemblies and increase their revenue. The quality and innovation of our products will generate customer loyalty.''