The format of today's call will first be an overview by Brian Robinson of our first quarter. Secondly, Greg Kenny will provide comments on the company's second quarter 2012 outlook and full-year business trends followed by a question-and-answer period.
Before we get started, I wanted to call your attention to our Safe Harbor provision regarding forward-looking statements and company-defined non-GAAP financial measures as defined on Slide #2, as we may refer to adjusted operating income and adjusted EBITDA in today's call.
To begin, please turn to Slide 5, where we have included a reconciliation of our previously communicated outlook provided on February 9.
With that, I will turn the call over to Brian Robinson.Brian J. Robinson Thank you, Len. Good morning. Overall, our first quarter operating results were above our expectations as metal cost headwinds subsided during the quarter and volumes improved in most North American and European businesses. Market metal prices increased during the quarter and were closer to inventory book values by the latter portion of the quarter, helping to mitigate the burden of selling higher average cost inventory into a lower metal price environment, which was so strongly evident in the [indiscernible]. Otherwise, as you can see on Slide 5, net sales inventory climbed [ph] movements and the effective tax rate were generally consistent with our expectation for the first quarter. On Slide #6, we've provided a commentary explaining our first quarter results compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 with Q4 net sales presented on a metals adjusted basis. The top line was flat despite the sequential increase in unit volume of 6% experienced during the quarter. Metal pounds sold in the first quarter included improved volume in Spain, which was captured at very low pricing levels. Gross profit and operating income in the first quarter reflects the impact of rising metal prices that helped to mitigate the burden of selling higher average cost inventory as we move through the quarter.
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