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Ashland's Management Discusses F1Q12- Earnings Call Transcript

Before we get started, let me note that as shown on Slide 2, our remarks today will include forward-looking statements as that term is defined in securities laws. We believe any such statements are based on reasonable assumptions but cannot assure that such expectations will be achieved. Please also note that during this presentation we will be discussing adjusted and pro forma results. We believe these adjusted and pro forma results enhance understanding of our performance by more accurately reflecting our ongoing business. In addition, we are providing financial results for historical ISP, representing Ashland’s best estimate of the appropriate cost allocation and shared resource cost. Reporting ISP’s results in this manner has inherent limitations and we do not represent that these financials results were calculated using the same methodology used by ISP.

Please turn to slide three for our first quarter highlights. I’ll mention at the outset that the current quarter represents the first time we have owned ISP for an entire quarter. Reported earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.76 in the December quarter. When adjusted for key items, which I will cover shortly, EPS was $1.20 as compared with $0.92 in the year ago quarter. Let me note that the $0.92 in the prior year does not include the results of ISP or the related financing costs. This is the only time this morning that we will present data in this manner. For the rest of the presentation and to aid in your analysis we will present results on a pro forma basis, which includes the results of ISP in prior periods. Thus, we achieved sales of $1.9 billion, a 6% increase over the prior on a pro forma basis.

We expanded our gross profit as a percent of sales to 28%, as a result of significant pricing efforts across all of our commercial units. This represents a 40 basis point increase over the prior year and 300 basis point increase sequentially.

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