The last key item is a $16 million after-tax charge or a negative $0.20 per share related to a write-off of pre-construction cost for a previously planned Greenfield manufacturing facility in the north of China. This write-off includes cost associated with upfront planning and design, initial engineering and land. This project has been suspended since 2008 as we evaluated the projects benefits and the projected returns. The decision to write-off this upfront cost will allow us to avoid an estimated $35 million in additional cost while shipping our capital investment focused to higher return projects.
In year ago quarter four key items combined for a net favorable impact on earnings of $1.29 per share. With the largest item being the call out of our actuarial gain on pension and [no PEP] expenses, while pension adjustments will typically occur only in the fourth quarter, the sale of Ashland distribution led to a pension re-measurement in the year ago quarter and to the callout item shown here, to aide in your analysis first that the peer group, Ashland’s results included $29 million of intangible amortization expense during the March 2012 quarter. We carry higher than average amortization due to our corporate transformation and prior acquisitions. Without this amortization earnings would be roughly $0.25 higher or $1.77 per share.
Please turn to Slide 5 for Ashland’s adjusted pro forma results. As a reminder results are presented on a pro forma basis which includes a full quarter of ISP in the March 2011 quarter. The year ago quarter also includes stepped up depreciation and amortization related to purchase accounting. As such Ashland’s March quarter sales increased 2% over the prior year to $2.1 billion, excluding currency sales would have been up roughly 3%.