Third, we began to move into our new hermetic motor facility in China. Fourth also in China we began construction of our new generator facility, Jon will cover both of those areas here in a few minutes. Fifth, we continue to smooth integration of EPC and we are on track to achieve our performance targets and finally consistent with our customer care and simplification initiatives. We launched a new corporate visual identity that we’ll discuss at the end of this call.
With that, I will turn it over to Chuck Hinrichs.
Chuck A. Hinrichs
Thank you Mark and good morning everyone. My first slide summarizes some of the highlights of our first quarter 2012 results. Net sales increased 21.9% over the prior year reflecting the inclusion of sales from the acquired businesses, including seven weeks of sales from our most recent acquisition, Milwaukee Gear. Sales in the quarter reflected continued growth in our North American commercial and industrial motor and mechanical businesses and Unico. This growth helps to offset weak sales in our HVAC, China and European businesses.
As we said on our previous calls, the EPC business is being integrated with our other businesses. We are not providing standalone results, but the EPC results continue to be excellent, reflecting good seasonal sales growth and operating profit in the first quarter. Our first quarter results benefitted from two non-operating items. First, we sold a parcel of land at a facility closed several years ago. The sale resulted in a gain of $1.3 million or $0.02 per share, which reduced our SG&A expenses in the quarter. Secondly, our income tax expense in the quarter benefited from a $1.4 million tax decrease at a non-U.S. entity. This represented a $0.04 per share benefit in the quarter.In summary, our first quarter 2012 earnings per share of a $1.16 included the benefit of these two non-operating items, which totaled $0.06 a share. Excluding these non-operating items, our earnings per share would have been $1.10 inline with our earlier guidance for the quarter. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com