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Titan earnings fall despite higher sales

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QUINCY, Ill.—Titan International Inc. reported lower operating and net income for the quarter ended March 31 despite 24.9-percent higher sales.

Titan attributed the lower earnings to higher selling, general and administrative costs, which reflected costs associated with the acquisitions last year of Titan Europe P.L.C. and Planet Group.

Income from operations fell 18.4 percent to $47.9 million, while adjusted net earnings were off 42.5 percent to $23.3 million.

Sales rose to $578.4 million.

Titan attributed the bulk of its growth to sales from recent acquisitions, including $148.7 million at Titan Europe, as well as increased demand in the company's agricultural segment. Sales volume was consistent with the prior year.

Titan Chairman and CEO Maurice Taylor Jr. noted that despite the higher costs, the percentage these SG&A costs represent of Titan's sales was 7 percent, or well within Titan's targeted range.

In addition, he said the firm's gross margin improved over the fourth quarter—a trend Titan expects to continue—and Titan Europe is on track with their first quarter budgeted revenue numbers.

Material costs have stabilized, Mr. Taylor said, “and we don't see any further cuts coming in the near term.

“In a period of falling raw material prices, our sales and profits are impacted.”

Mr. Taylor also said costs increased due to new labor contracts signed during the quarter with United Steelworkers union locals at its three U.S. plants, but that the company expects productivity increases to offset these costs.

Titan also announced that it has reached a preliminary agreement, still subject to final approval, with its insurance companies in Europe to settle a claim for approximately $45 million net of deductible and other fees to cover damages Titan Europe's wheel plant in Finale Emilia, Italy, suffered during an earthquake in May 2012.

That plant was closed during “initial remedial work,” Titan said, which resulted in the “limited transfer” of production to other facilities within Titan Europe as well as sourcing product from facilities in the U.S. owned by Titan and competitors.

Titan said it expects the full restoration of the facility to continue through 2014.

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