QUINCY, Ill. (Oct. 31) — Tire and wheel maker Titan International Inc. made gains in sales and profits in the 2003 third quarter, but still lost $13.4 million on net sales of $111.2 million during the period, the company announced Oct. 31. The Quincy-based firm posted a $17.7 million loss on sales of $104.7 million in 2002's third quarter. Higher raw material prices and increased employee benefit insurance and other costs negatively impacted Titan by about $2.1 million, the company reported. Costs of about $1.7 million associated with the consolidation of all the firm's tire manufacturing operations into its Des Moines, Iowa, facility also were incurred in the third quarter. Titan's cost-cutting measures and manufacturing efficiency improvements — combined with stronger farm and construction markets — should translate into a better position for the firm in 2004, said Maurice Taylor Jr., the company's president and CEO. Year-to-date, Titan posted a $27.4 million net loss on sales of $371.2 million.