Jeffrey A. Joerres
Thanks Mike. The first quarter was much better than what we had anticipated. It was primarily driven by the higher than anticipated revenue line. Going into the quarter, we were seeing some crepitation, as we continue to, but it turned out to be much less than anticipated. We were anticipating constant currency revenue growth of zero to 2%, and we achieved 3% for the quarter.
Revenue growth in U.S. dollars was flat but also above expectation as our guidance called for a contraction between 1% and 3%. The higher than anticipated revenue was achieved across the board as the Americas, Southern Europe, Northern Europe, Asia-Pacific and Right Management, all exceeded expectations.
We expected to earn between $0.30 and $0.38 with a negative impact of $0.02 per currency. In fact, we earned $0.50 with a negative impact of $0.02 per currency. Given the choppy economic environment, our success in the first quarter attribute to the team as well as the lot of hard work that had taken place prior to the quarter. It’s also important to note, as you can see that, while our growth is below normal levels for this time of the recovery, we were able to achieve or leverage given even modest increase in revenue.
Our operating earnings increased 14% in constant currency with our earnings per share increasing 21% over the last year in constant currency. We were able to maintain a much better hold on gross margin and continued our path towards diversifying our business and differentiating ourselves within the brands under ManpowerGroup.
With that overview, I’d like to turn over to Mike to discuss the details.
Mike Van Handel
Okay, thanks Jeff. I will follow my typical format with some overall comments on the quarter followed by discussion of each of our operating segments, a review of our cash flow and balance sheet, and finally our outlook for the second quarter of 2012.