The net decrease is attributable to volume reductions and lower pricing due to competitive pressures in the Auto Glass segment and a slowdown in the commercial construction industry affecting the Architectural segment.These reductions were partially offset by revenue gains in the LSO segment from new product introductions and conversions of value-added picture-framing glass.
On a consolidated basis, cost of sales, as a percentage of net sales, fell to 75.9 percent for fiscal 2003, improving from 76.6 percent in fiscal 2002. The primary factors for the increased margins were from efficiencies gained as a result of the higher levels of capacity utilization in our LSO segment as well as efficiency gains and sales of higher-margin products in the Architectural segment. The combined impact of these items increased margins by 1.7 percent. This improvement was offset by price declines for the entire Auto Glass segment and reduced operating performance in our auto glass retail business.
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses, as a percentage of sales, increased to 18.7 percent from 17.9 percent, but the expenses remained essentially flat year-over-year at $144.4 million versus $143.6 million in fiscal 2002. Increases in marketing and advertising costs related to the Auto Glass segment windshield repair initiative and the Architectural segment renovation initiative were offset by reductions in salaries and related costs in the Architectural and Auto Glass segments as a result of reducing the overall cost structure. Decreased performance-based incentive expenses, lower training costs, gain on sale of assets and lower bad debt expenses also contributed to offset these higher expenses.
Net interest expense decreased to $3.5 million for fiscal 2003 from $5.3 million in fiscal 2002, reflecting lower borrowing levels and a lower weighted-average interest rate under our revolving credit agreement. The effects of the lower borrowing levels and rate were offset by less interest collected from tax refunds received during the year in comparison to the prior year.
Other income in fiscal 2003 reflects $1.0 million pretax benefit of realized gains on the sale of investments held for our self-insurance program as compared to $0.1 million in the prior year. The increased gains in the current year reflect a significant sale of marketable securities. As part of normal investment portfolio management, the Companys wholly owned insurance subsidiary sold appreciated marketable debt securities, creating this gain.
Our equity in loss from affiliated companies was $2.5 million in fiscal 2003 versus equity in loss of $1.0 million in the prior year. This additional loss is related to a decline in the performance of the PPG Auto Glass joint venture as a result of very competitive and reduced prices in the auto glass industry. Additionally, amendments made to supply agreements related to the PPG Auto Glass joint venture in the prior year second quarter led to lower earnings during the current year for PPG Auto Glass and increased