Keep in mind that our actual results may differ materially from expectations as of today due to various factors, including those listed in our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, in each case as filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and our earnings release issued this morning, all of which are available upon request or on our website at meadjohnson.com.
In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our estimates only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our estimates as of any subsequent date. While we may elect to update forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we specifically disclaim any obligation to do so even if our estimates change.
Given that we are in the midst of the earnings reporting season, we will be respectful of your time. And I will now turn the call over to Steve.
Stephen W. GolsbyThank you, Kathy, and good morning, everyone. As noted in our press release issued earlier today, we delivered strong first quarter results. Constant dollar sales growth of 9% was in line with our expectations. The continued excellent performance in both Asia and Latin America was partially offset by an anticipated decline in the North America/Europe segment. Non-GAAP earnings of $0.82 per share were up 8% from $0.76 per share in the first quarter of 2011. Earnings increased due to sales growth, a favorable foreign exchange comparison and a lower effective tax rate, partially offset by lower gross margins and higher demand generation investments. In the first quarter, we completed the acquisition of an 80% equity interest in the SanCor Bebé infant formula and children's nutrition business. This joint venture gives us the leading market share position in Argentina, the third largest market in Latin America, and a strong platform for growth throughout the Southern Cone of South America.