On the call today are Dean Scarborough, Chairman, President and CEO; and Mitch Butier, Senior Vice President and CFO. I'll now turn the call over to Dean.
Dean A. Scarborough
Thanks, Eric, and good day, everyone. First quarter earnings came in as we expected on somewhat lower than anticipated sales volume while free cash flow was somewhat better than we expected. Sales declined modestly, reflecting the slowdown in volume that started in the second quarter of last year and impacted all regions. Run rates were generally in line with recent trends. Asia, however, was weaker than we expected for the pressure-sensitive Materials segment, and I'll touch on that just a bit more in a few minutes.
Despite lower volumes, we increased the operating profit through productivity initiatives and higher prices. And I'm pleased to say we're delivering on the commitment to return more cash to shareholders. We repurchased 2.4 million shares during the quarter and paid a higher dividend.Now let me comment briefly on the 2 segments before turning the call over to Mitch. Pressure-sensitive Materials continues to deliver solid results. Despite lower volume, operating profits were up. Results for North America and Europe were pretty much in line with our expectations, but sales in Asia came in weaker than planned for Label and Packaging Materials. We knew the comparisons to prior year will be tough for this region, but LPM sales in Asia ramped up more slowly than we anticipated following the Chinese New Year. The run rate has picked up for this business, so we expect to see a return to double-digit growth for LPM Asia over the balance of the year. To that end, we completed the expansion of LPM's plant in Pune, India where we continue to see exciting growth opportunities. Globally, this business has solid, long-term growth drivers, stable to improving operating margins and generates a lot of cash. You'll hear much more about our strategies and outlook for this business from LPM's President Don Nolan during the May Investor Meeting.
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