For the fourth quarter of 2012, the Company had positive cash flow from operations of $12.7 million, even after continued investment in the ramp-up of North Jackson. Capital expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2012 were $4.3 million, including $3.0 million for the North Jackson operation. At December 31, 2012, the Company had total debt of $106.7 million, or 35.0% of total capitalization.
Shipment volume for the fourth quarter of 2012 decreased 25% from the fourth quarter of 2011. This reflected a 19% increase in tons shipped to the service center plate market, offset by decreases of 20%, 41% and 53% in shipments to the aerospace, petrochemical and power generation markets, respectively.
Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Oates commented: "Our fourth quarter sales were consistent with low activity levels industry-wide. An expected pick-up in order entry at year end failed to materialize as economic uncertainty kept customers focused on inventory reduction. An exception was the solid demand for service center plate products in the quarter, which have applications in the automotive and heavy industrial markets.
"We achieved further operational improvement company-wide in the fourth quarter, including commissioning of additional equipment and process modifications that will benefit quality and cycle time. However, lower shipment volume and the continued ramp-up of our North Jackson operation resulted in a consolidated operating margin of 3.7% for the quarter."We are successfully entering the final stages of the North Jackson ramp-up. The approval process with customers for our vacuum induction melting (VIM) products is proceeding with prime and first-tier OEMs in our major markets. "Despite a slowdown in order activity that began for us in the second quarter of 2012, our full year sales approximated those of 2011, and our operating margin, even with North Jackson, approached 10% for 2012. We expect our North Jackson operation to begin making an increasingly positive contribution to our results as we go through 2013. In addition, there are early signs that some customers are returning to the market, although most are predicting a gradual recovery in meaningful demand. We are fully focused on further strengthening our position to respond to that demand as it returns."