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Ahead of the Bell: Jefferies upgrades Titan Int'l

An analyst upgraded shares of wheel and tire supplier Titan International Inc. Monday after the recent slump in its shares, saying there could be stock gains ahead.

Jefferies & Co. analyst Stephen Volkmann lifted Titan to "Buy" from "Hold," with a $23 price target.

Shares have dropped 18 percent during the past seven weeks on worries about slowing demand from North American agriculture customers and mining companies, Volkmann said.

Titan makes wheels, tires and other parts for vehicles used in industries including construction, agriculture and mining. It sells to companies that make vehicles and also sells parts to dealers for consumers.

The company can offset declining demand in the farm sector by selling more parts to consumers who already own vehicles, Volkmann said. He also believes that the company is increasing its distribution in the mining sector, which could help it grow even if the industry declines.

Still, he cut his earnings estimate for the year, to $2.40 per share from $2.50 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect $2.28 per share. Volkmann also cut his 2013 earnings estimate to $2.85 per share from $3 per share. Analysts expect $2.72 per share.

An update to the company's earnings guidance and on its plans to acquire Titan Europe plc could help lift shares in the near future, he said. Titan reports its latest quarterly results on Oct. 25.

Shares rose 23 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $18.07 in premarket trading Monday. Shares of the Quincy, Ill., company are down 8 percent this year.

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