The effective tax rate for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was 32.1% of pre-tax income and compares to 36.7% for the corresponding thirteen week period of fiscal 2011. The lower rate was due to higher permanent differences, primarily increased enhanced charitable food contribution deductions, higher state tax benefits and a slight benefit from the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which continued the work opportunity tax credit. For fiscal 2012, the income tax rate was 35.9% of pre-tax income compared to 36.6% in the corresponding fifty-two week period for fiscal 2011.
Balance Sheet/Cash Flow
During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company generated $15.5 million in cash flow from operations and invested $18.4 million in capital expenditures, of which $13.7 million related to new, relocated and remodeled stores. For fiscal 2012, the Company generated $91.9 million in cash flow from operations and invested $81.1 million in capital expenditures, with $69.1 million spent on real estate activities.
The Company's cash balance as of January 27, 2013 was approximately $8.7 million. Total debt as of January 27, 2013 was $42.0 million, down $22.0 million from a balance of $64.0 million as of January 29, 2012.Average inventory on a FIFO basis per store at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 increased 2.0%, compared to the corresponding period in fiscal 2011. The increase resulted from commodity cost increases in certain departments, such as meat and produce, as well as increased inventory investments in new product assortments and faster growing categories to support the Company's overall sales growth. On a trailing four quarter basis for the period ended January 27, 2013, the Company's return on assets was 18.4%, return on invested capital, excluding excess cash, was 25.9%, and return on equity was 32.4%. These financial return measures are non-GAAP financial measures. The schedules attached to this press release include a discussion of these non-GAAP measures, as well as the details of our calculations of these financial return measures.