Our earnings release was issued this morning by Business Wire, a copy can be found in the Investor section of our corporate website, thetorocompany.com.
I'll now turn the call over to Mike.
Thank you, Kurt and good morning to all of our listeners. The favorable spring weather conditions we enjoyed across much of the United States during the first half of the year took a dramatic turn this summer with a record setting heat wave and the worst drought the country has seen in over 50 years.
Extreme lack of moisture across most of the country coupled with the continuing global economic issues slowed the robust sales momentum we generated during our first two quarters. However our third quarter results still outpaced fiscal 2011 and we delivered improved revenues, gross margin and earnings per share in spite of the weather and economic challenges.
While net sales for the quarter only grew 1%, earnings per share increased 22%. For the first nine months, net sales increased 6.8% while earnings per share rose 21%. While currency exchange for the international business was somewhat negative, it had very little impact on the quarter and year-to-date results for the company.
As reported in our earnings release earlier this morning, the slowdown we experienced during the quarter, required an adjustment to our EPS guidance for the year 2010 which still represents a 14% of improvement over last year, even with the sense for investments we made for acquisitions this year. Renee will discuss our financial and operating results in more detail later in the call.
Several of our key businesses, most notably professional golf, landscape contractor and grounds and micro irrigation continued to perform well in North America. Our residential markets which are more immediately impacted by swings in mother nature saw industry-wide slowdowns due to the drought. Even with the drought, our overall year-to-date retail numbers remain favorable across most businesses.