All the results we share this morning are presented on a continuing operations basis. For the first quarter, the company's income from continuing operations was $49 million or $0.28 per share. Excluding special items, adjusted net income from continuing operations was $60 million or $0.34 per share.
Now here to tell you more about our results in the first quarter are John Luke, Chairman and CEO; Jim Buzzard, our President; and Mark Rajkowski, our Chief Financial Officer.
I'll now turn the call over to John.
John A. Luke
Jason, thanks, and good morning. Moving on to the momentum of our strong performance last year, we have extended our performance with a solid start in 2012. Our profitable growth strategies generated increased top line sales and solid earnings during the first quarter. Performance that was gratifying given the continuing challenges in the global economy, especially the crisis in Europe and the related growth impacts in Brazil and China. We had year-over-year sales growth of 4% in the first quarter. This is a significant improvement compared to flat performance in the fourth quarter and this renewed growth included both volume increases in our Packaging and Specialty Chemicals markets, as well as higher pricing and product mix improvement. We also had a very good quarter of land sales and development activity in our CDLM business.
We're generating above-market growth in several of our end markets by executing our strategy focused on commercial excellence, innovation, emerging markets and expanded participation with new technologies and capabilities. This morning, I'll use these 4 pillars of our growth strategy as the context to share some highlights for our performance.
First, commercial excellence, where we're working to become the most commercially proficient company in our industry by continuously strengthening our ties to the world's largest consumer products companies in order to earn a larger share of their packaging spend. As an example of our success during the quarter, we outpaced underlying growth in the beverage market, in part, due to contributions from a new product launch for AB InBev's Michelob ULTRA. This is one of the first solutions to hit the marketplace from the pipeline of projects we developed through our brand engagement work that our beverage team detailed for you during our meeting here in Richmond last December.