For those who have followed us know the Sigma-Aldrich value proposition is based on many pillars. It's not just one thing. We are a science-based company and we have a lot of scientific knowledge in this company. But we are also a tremendous distribution and logistics company that can provide the service that our customers need no matter where they are in the world. 95% of the time, people who order our products, we give them the next day in most places. Quality and compliance is an extremely important thing for us. We have a very large QA/QC function in this company. Everything that leaves our docks and our doors is certified and because we are supplying the -- all of this stuff -- we are supplying all sorts of very important products. And so this is very truly, very important, I would say it's a comparative advantage that we have. Extensive selection of products and services, we offer over 200,000 products today, I think we have probably one of the broadest offerings of products in our category. And of course, when you do all this, you establish trust and you build a franchise, which I think is what we have done over the years.
I'm not going to talk a lot about the history, most of you know this, but I can tell you that I think from a performance standpoint, which really demonstrates the ability for this company to execute, is you have to go back, in fact you could go back 35 years, this shows the last 5 years and you can see that we have had consistent stable growth in several of these metrics. Our sales have grown about 7% on average. Our ROE has remained high right through this year in 21%, 22%. That bounced up and down partly because ROE is also influenced by exchange rates. So the reason I think of the event last year is because when the dollar becomes a little weak, it has an impact on ROE. But obviously, fundamentally our return -- our actual return on the investor capital, our returns on the balance sheet metrics are very, very strong in the quarter. And margin expansion has been good. I stood here, I think in 2009, and we talked about expanding margins about 300 basis points, I remember the time it was only about 24% and we certainly did that over 4 or 5 years. We've been on that journey and it's happening and I can tell you because I get this question, about are we expanding margins at the expense of growth. And I can tell you, standing here, absolutely not and we will not do that. Margins are going up because we have, frankly you'll have, a lot of low-hanging fruit in the company. And we've been taking advantage of that, we've been getting our supply chain more efficient. And we've been very successful. There is still more room. But I would tell you our margins are pretty good where they are. And we are clearly -- and if you looked at what we are focused on, in growth. Because when we have growth all those things happen. And then, more than Charlie has been seeing us [indiscernible] for many of us in the company. And we know that we are actually producing shareholder value for many of our investors, or all our investors, and that we have outperformed the broad industry as well as outperformed our peers.
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