Operating profit for the quarter was $86 million, with sustained operating margins, compared with $97 million in the prior year. The tax rate and diluted share count for adjusted earnings per share in the fourth quarter were 17 percent and 160.2 million, respectively. Net earnings were $95 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the prior year results of $95 million.
Net sales in the fourth quarter were $1,501 million compared to $1,614 million in the prior year. Volumes decreased 3 percent on a year-over-year basis primarily due to continued soft global demand in the company's Acetyl Intermediates segment and the Acetate footprint rationalization in its Consumer Specialties segment. Pricing also decreased 3 percent on a year-over-year basis mainly due to lower global demand for photovoltaic applications in the company's Industrial Specialties segment and lower raw material costs in its Acetyl Intermediates and Industrial Specialties segments.
- Completed a $500 million offering of 4.625% senior unsecured notes due in 2022. In connection with completion of the offering, the company repaid $400 million of its existing senior secured credit facility indebtedness that was set to mature in 2016 and used the remaining proceeds, together with cash on hand, to make a $100 million contribution to its U.S. pension plan.
- Completed the shutdown of the company's acetate tow and flake manufacturing operations at its Spondon, Derby, United Kingdom site. These manufacturing operations were included in the company's Consumer Specialties segment.
Fourth Quarter Business Segment OverviewAdvanced Engineered Materials Advanced Engineered Materials delivered growth in the fourth quarter despite a challenging economic environment in Europe and normal seasonality. Net sales increased to $299 million compared with $292 million in the prior year period as its innovative customer-oriented solutions drove a 4 percent increase in volumes while currency had a 2 percent unfavorable impact. Fourth quarter operating EBITDA was $88 million, a $15 million improvement over prior year, driven by the higher volumes and higher equity earnings. Equity earnings from the company's affiliates were $47 million compared with $36 million in the prior year period, primarily due to a significant turnaround in its Asian affiliates in fourth quarter of 2011. Operating profit improved by $4 million over the prior year period.