TOKYO (Aug. 27)—Sales by Toyo Tire & Rubber Co.'s North American business units grew 12.7 percent last year vs. 2001, but expenses outgrew sales to leave operating income 54.3 percent below the 2001 performance. Toyo reported $438.2 million in sales in North America for the year ended March 31, according to the firm's fiscal 2003 annual report. Operating income fell to $14.6 million, shrinking the operating ratio to 3.3 percent. Part of the sales gain can be attributed to the start of production in July 2002 of Toyo Automotive Parts (USA) Inc., a maker of automotive anti-vibration components in Franklin, Ky. That unit's projected annual sales at full output is $32 million. Globally, Toyo reported improved sales and net earnings for fiscal 2003. Sales increased 0.5 percent to $2.09 billion while net income was up 12.1 percent to $30 million. Operating earnings fell 12.1 percent to $111 million.