This call is being webcast in listen-only mode and it will be archived in audio format on our website for 3 weeks. Throughout the call, we will be referencing the supporting material, which can be downloaded from our Investor Relations website under Calendar of Events, or you may follow the slides accompanying today's webcast, which are also available through our website.
During the course of this presentation and in responses to your questions, you will hear certain forward-looking statements. Our actual results may differ materially. Please read our commentary on forward-looking statements in Slide #2 of our supporting material or at the end of our news release or the statements in our quarterly and annual SEC filings.
In addition, our discussion includes certain non-GAAP financial measurements as defined under SEC rules. We have provided a reconciliation of those non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure at the end of our press release. A copy of our press release is available on our Investor Relations website.
Now let me turn the call over to Shane.Shane D. Fleming Thanks, Jodi, and good morning, everyone. I appreciate you taking the time to join our first quarter earnings call. I'll begin on Slide 3. Overall sales in the quarter for continuing operations were $783 million versus $766 million in the prior year quarter. The year-on-year sales growth was driven by sizable volume increases in our 2 growth platforms: Engineered Materials and In Process Separation, as well as price increases across each of our businesses. First quarter net earnings were $59.8 million or $1.28 per diluted share, excluding special items, which represents a 64% increase versus $0.78 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2011. The earnings growth in the quarter was primarily a result of higher selling volumes in the Engineered Materials and In Process Separation segments, as well as higher selling prices in Coating Resins and In Process Separation.