"Our fourth quarter was a continuation of our strong performance throughout the year and adds up to an excellent 2021 as we increased sales by an astounding $521 million," commented Paul Reitz, president and chief executive officer.
"You may have seen our recent public comments on the positive market dynamics, and I want to share some additional information on Titan continuing to ride the tidal wave into 2022 and, even more importantly, beyond. We see the market forces surrounding Agriculture continuing to create momentum on a global scale to drive a multi-year strong demand cycle. Farm commodities are as high as we have seen in the last decade, which along with government programs, has put farmers in a good financial position. On top of that, there is a strong need for new equipment in the market, which remains in short supply, as OEMs are challenged to produce enough to meet demand, much less build inventory. Used equipment inventories are also at record low levels coming into the year. With all of this in place, farmers will do well and that's the bottom line for our industry. Let's not forget, Titan's wheel and tire products are more focused on the Ag market, while our undercarriage business is a major player in the global construction and mining markets. Those both are shaping up as stronger in 2022 and beyond, as infrastructure spending ramps up over time, and minerals continue to see strong demand on a global scale. Titan was able to be there for its customers in big way in 2021, as the demand increased significantly, with our global production footprint that is the best and largest in the off-road wheel, tire and undercarriage industry. With our unparalleled production capabilities and quality, along with our innovative products, we are well prepared to serve our global customer base now and into the future.
"We get there are questions surrounding global volatility and uncertainty, with all of the headlines, from raw material pricing, supply chain and labor challenges, and the logistics chaos. This includes the most recent crisis in the Ukraine. Titan is accustomed to solving problems and overcoming challenges, and our financial results and growth demonstrate that. I have confidence that we will continue to manage any challenges ahead. We have strong focus within our management teams to manage customer expectations, along with pricing and cost discipline to drive further margin and profitability improvements.
"Titan's business performance and our financial position improved dramatically in 2021, and as I have stated before, we expect the positive trends to continue during 2022 with our Q1 performance coming out of the gate strong to start the year. Our operating plan, which our Board supports, calls for our revenue to grow to more than $2 billion with our goal of reaching adjusted EBITDA of $175 million, which demonstrates strong gains over 2021 levels. Capital expenditures should be in a range between $45 million to $50 million with flexibility on timing of these commitments in order to match up with our cash flow. With continued working capital focus and inventory levels in a position to support our higher production and sales, we expect to drive meaningful free cash flow in 2022."
Results of Operations
Net sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2021, were $487.7 million, compared to $326.9 million in the comparable quarter of 2020, an increase of 49.2% drive by sales increases across all segments. Overall net sales was influenced heavily by both increased volume from increased demand across all segments of the business, most notably agriculture, along with pricing. The contributing factors to the increase in demand were increased commodity prices, lower equipment inventory levels at the farm equipment retail levels, and pent up demand following the economic impacts which occurred in 2020. Pricing increases have been implemented because of rising raw material costs and other inflationary impacts in the markets, including freight.
Gross profit for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2021, was $62.5 million, compared to $25.9 million in the comparable prior year period. Gross margin was 12.8% of net sales for the quarter, compared to 7.9% of net sales in the comparable prior year period. The gross profit in the fourth quarter of 2020 was impacted by an $11.2 million impairment on Titan Tire Reclamation Corporation (TTRC) in Canada as a result of market declines, which indicated the remaining book value of the equipment was above the fair market value, as well as $1.3 million of redundancy payments as part of a restructuring plan to reduce production costs in Italy. Excluding these charges, gross profit was $38.4 million with gross margin at 11.8% during the fourth quarter of 2020. The increase in gross profit and margin was driven by the impact of increases in sales volume, as described previously, favorably impacting overhead absorption. In addition, cost reduction initiatives were executed across global operations.
Selling, general, administrative, research and development (SGARD) expenses for the fourth quarter of 2021 were $35.6 million, compared to $39.3 million for the comparable prior year period. As a percentage of net sales, SGARD was 7.3%, compared to 12% for the comparable prior year period. The SGARD in the fourth quarter of 2020 was impacted by a $6 million impairment related to certain customer relationship intangibles in Australia as a result of customer attrition since the original acquisition date. Excluding these charges, SGARD increased $2.3 million as a result of an increase in variable costs associated with improved operating performance and growth in sales.
Income from operations for the fourth quarter of 2021 was $24.3 million, or 5% of net sales, compared to a loss of $15.8 million, or 4.8% of net sales, for the fourth quarter of 2020. The increase in income was primarily due to the higher sales and improvements in gross profit margins as well as the absence of the prior year fourth quarter charges noted above.
During the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2021, net sales increased 64% reflecting additional volume from significantly improved demand across all geographic markets, along with pricing reflective of increased raw material and other cost inflation. Demand in the global agriculture markets reflects improved farmer income, the need for replacement of an aging large equipment fleet, and the need to replenish equipment inventory levels within the equipment dealer channels. The improvement in gross profit and margin is primarily attributable to the impact of increased sales volume, as described previously, and cost reduction initiatives executed across global production facilities.