For the quarter, Vitro posted a 57.0 percent and a 24.1 percent YoY increase in consolidated EBIT and EBITDA respectively. EBIT increased by US$14 million and EBITDA by US$19 million during the period. Flat Glass was the major contributor to the improvement, with YoY increases of 166.5 percent in EBIT and 42.5 percent in EBITDA. Consolidated EBITDA margins improved YoY by 382 basis points, with all three business units contributing to the increase. Annualized EBITDA improved from US$345 million as of September 30, 2003 to US$364 million for fiscal year 2003, reflecting the improving trend.
Commenting on the results, Alvaro Rodriguez, Chief Financial Officer, said: 2003 was a challenging year for glass companies worldwide, and Vitro wasn´t an exception. The improvement in EBITDA reflects our commitment to cost control and improved efficiencies, as seen by the decrease in cost of sales and SG&A on a year over year basis.
Mr. Rodriguez added: We are aware that the market is expecting sustained improvement in our results. We are committed to produce a consistent recovery in sales and earnings. We are optimistic about the long term future of Vitro since we have one of the finest glass operations in the world. Our portfolio of assets puts us on very solid ground, with the Glass Containers business as a downside protection operation and the Flat Glass business providing us great potential upside.
Mr. Rodriguez continued: As one of the worlds leading glass producers, Vitro will continue to build on its strengths, focusing on value added and niche markets, increasing its domestic market share participation, maintaining a well diversified and strong customer base, leveraging its position in international markets through joint ventures, and balancing domestic revenues with exports and international sales .
We will also continue to strengthen our financial position, and improve our debt profile. For instance, despite being a modest year in terms of cash flow generation, gross debt declined YoY by US$46 million, the average life of debt increased from 3 years to 4 years and short-term debt was reduced to only 28 percent of total debt, from 32 percent at the beginning of the year. With the issuance of the 2013 Notes on October of 2003, average life of debt at the Holding company level increased to 6 years, with no major market maturities until the end of 2006.
We have continued with our commitment to focus on glass with the recent announcement of the divestiture of our fiber glass operations whose proceeds will be used to reduce net debt in 2004. Mr. Rodriguez concluded.
The consolidated financial results, income statement, and cash flows for the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2002, account for Vitromatic, S.A. de C. V. as a discontinued operation. All figures provided in this announcement are in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting principles in Mexico, except otherwise indicated. Dollar figures are in nominal US dollars and are obtained by dividing nominal pesos for month by the end of month fix exchange rate published by Banxico. In the case of the Balance Sheet, US dollar translations are made at the fix exchange rate as of the end of the period. The exchange rate as of October 31, 2003 was 11.0525, as of November 30, 2003 was 11.3985 and as of December 31 2003 was 11.2372 pesos per US dollar. Certain amounts may not sum due to rounding.