Following a reading of the Safe Harbor provision, CEO Larry Zimpleman and CFO Terry Lillis will deliver some prepared remarks. Then we will open up the call for questions. Others available for the Q&A are Dan Houston, Retirement, Investor Services and U.S. Insurance Solutions; Jim McCaughan, Principal Global Investors; Luis Valdez, Principal International; and Julia Lawler, our Chief Investment Officer.
Some of the comments made during this conference call may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. The company does not revise or update them to reflect new information, subsequent events or changes in strategy. Risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied are discussed in the company's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
I'd like to take a quick moment to remind you of our upcoming Investor Day on September 21. We look forward to the opportunity to provide you an update on our strategy and long term growth opportunities, as well as a deep dive into our distribution strategy for each of our businesses.
Now I'd like to turn the call over to Larry.Larry Donald ZimplemanThanks, John, and welcome to everyone on the call. As usual, I'll comment on 3 areas. First, I'll briefly discuss second quarter results. Second, I'll provide an update on the continued successful execution of our strategy, then I'll close with some comments on M&A and capital deployment.As John mentioned, we've provided slides related to today's call. Slide 4 outlines the themes for the quarter.Second quarter saw a continuation of recent trends with strong momentum in sales and flows, while macroeconomic events impacted operating earnings. Despite a 6% decrease from the year ago quarter, second quarter total company operating earnings were solid at $216 million. Earnings per share were up 1% due to our share repurchases during the past year. The operating earnings result reflects persistent macroeconomic headwinds, including negative equity markets, low interest rates, strengthening of the U.S. dollar and stagnant job growth.
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