Pirelli Tire L.L.C. was in the black last year, for the second straight year, while sales in the U.S. grew 27.1 percent to $196.1 million, according to Pirelli S.p.A.'s recently released 2003 annual report.
Pirelli's U.S. earnings rose 28.6 percent to $13.4 million to keep the earnings/sales ratio at 6.8 percent.
Pirelli's growth outpaced that of the U.S. replacement passenger and light truck tire market, which rose 1.7 percent last year.
For 2004, Pirelli anticipates continued growth, with a 12-percent share of the North American performance tire market targeted, according to comments made by executives at the firm's recent ``technology day'' at the corporate research and development facilities in Milan.
Pirelli's 2004 sales will be bolstered by the firm's entry throughout 2003 into selected original equipment fitments with North American car makers, the firm said in its annual report comments.
2003 marked the inauguration of production at Pirelli's Rome, Ga., plant, which uses Pirelli's Modular Integrated Robotized System exclusively, primarily for high-performance tires.
Supplementing the Rome capacity this year will be production of more standard tires at the firm's newest plant, in Feira de Santana, Brazil.