Struggling Titan gives up the ghost

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Titan Motorcycles, the all-American supplier of bikes to film stars and Hell's Angels alike, is teetering on the brink of liquidation.

Titan Motorcycles, the all-American supplier of bikes to film stars and Hell's Angels alike, is teetering on the brink of liquidation.

The company, whose hand-built product range features names like Gecko, Sidewinder and Phoenix, has been running at a loss for several years, and now faces delisting from Nasdaq. Since its flotation in 1996, the shares have had a troubled career, surging briefly in the initial excitement of the issue, but declining steadily ever since.

Last week the price tumbled down to its all-time low of less than a third of a dollar, forcing the Nasdaq authorities to act. They have given Titan 90 days to comply with the minimum price requirement, which effectively means bringing the price back to more than $1. If investors fail to come to the company's rescue it will delist on 30 November. That would in turn constitute a default on its debts, forcing the company to liquidate under bancruptcy law.

The company has long since lost the coverage on any analysts, but observers of the wider sector rate Titan's chances of survival as very low. At the group's last set of results it admitted that it was unable to convert a buoyant order book into profits, and the de-rating continued.

Although Titan manufactures bikes that are seen as the pinnacle of the cruiser-type market, it is unable to gain any kind of foothold. Although the general demand for gleaming, chrome-encrusted beasts is still high, the market is 50 per cent dominated by Harley Davidson, whose stock still goes from strength to strength.

Titan is understood to have made a number of approaches to other bike-makers in the hope of finding a buyer to come to its rescue. Although Harley Davidson would be the obvious choice, the comapny is not thought to be interested. Some suggest, however, that one of the Japanese bike-makers more traditionally associated with high-speed machines might be interested in Titan as a route into the luxury market.

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