Tire and wheel manufacturer Titan International Inc. set a first-quarter sales record in the first three months of 2008, successfully following up on all-time highs posted in fourth-quarter and year-long revenues in 2007.
The company reported net sales of $253.5 million in the quarter, up about 12 percent from the year before. Titan posted record sales of $204.9 million in the preceding fourth quarter, and $837 million for fiscal 2007.
The firm also had net earnings of $8.13 million in the first quarter, a big improvement over the $2.48 million net loss from the like period of 2007.
Titan's growth was spurred by ``huge demand'' in the agricultural market, according to Maurice Taylor Jr., the company's chairman and CEO. Increases in grain-based ethanol and soybean-based biofuel have pushed up commodity prices throughout the market, he said.
Sales in Titan's agricultural market segment were $173.5 million for the first quarter, up 28.2 percent from the like period of 2007. The totals include tire and wheel sales.
The company also inked a three-year agreement last month to supply farm tires to various John Deere affiliates, a deal that could exceed $100 million in value the first year, Taylor said.
``This upward trend should continue and contribute to our growth and result in one of Titan's best years yet,'' he said.
The company-which in addition to the farm market supplies tires and wheels to the construction, earthmoving and consumer sectors-produced its first 63-inch giant off-the-road radial tire in February, according to Taylor. Testing began on the tire at its OTR tire plant in Bryan, Ohio, in mid-April, using Titan's new 24-foot bull wheel, he said.
Capital expenditures for the first quarter totaled about $20.9 million-about $16 million related to the giant OTR tire project, the company said.
The Quincy-based firm is on schedule to start up production of giant tires by July, and the manufacturing of the tires will increase as equipment is brought online, Taylor said.
``With the new capacity to produce giant OTR tires and the continued demand in ag, Titan's sales should remain strong,'' he said.