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Ashland's CEO Discusses F2Q2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Please turn to Slide 3 for our second quarter highlights. Reported earnings per share from continuing operations were $1.13 in the March 2012 quarter. When adjusted for key items which I will cover shortly, EPS was $1.52 as compared with $0.97 in a year ago quarter. Let me note that the $0.97 in the prior year does not include the results of ISP or the related financing cost. This is the only time this morning that we will present data in this manner. For the rest of the presentation and to aide in your analysis we will present results on a pro forma basis which includes the results of ISP in prior periods.

Sales totaled $2.1 billion a 2% increase over the prior year on a pro forma basis. Operating margin was consistent between all periods roughly 10.5% of sales. Our adjusted EBITDA was $329 million 2% above the $322 million of pro forma adjusted EBITDA in the prior year quarter. EBITDA as a percent of sales was nearly 16%.

Once again Specialty Ingredients turned in the strongest performance during the quarter increasing earnings by more than 10% on a pro forma basis.

We generated $141 million of free cash flow during the quarter due to a combination of good business performance and improvement in our trade working capital as a percent of sales.

Slide 4 details our key items. In total three key items had a net unfavorable EPS impact on continuing operations of $0.39 in the March 2012 quarter. The first key item is a $3 million after-tax charge or a negative $0.03 per share related to stepped up inventory values from the ISP acquisition. This key item arose from a refinement of our original purchase accounting calculations.

The second key item is a $12 million after-tax charge or a negative $0.16 per share related to the ISP integration and cost restructuring efforts we previously described. The majority of this charge stem from the consolidation of facilities in the Wilmington, Delaware area. The resultant savings now complete the strategic cost portion of our overall cost reduction program. This key item also included a small benefit related to an update for our Water Technologies severance accrual. But previously described 6 to $7 million cost reduction project in Water Technologies has been completed with the cost to achieve these savings being somewhat reduced.

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