In addition, comments made here may include non-GAAP financial measures. To the extent they have been anticipated, reconciliations of those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures are included in the press release.Now let me turn the call over to Kirk. Kirk S. Hachigian Thank you, Kyle. Good morning. We're very pleased today to report the best quarterly earnings per share in our company's 178-year history. While over the past several years, we've had tremendous economic volatility and uncertainty, it's a tribute to our 26,000 employees and their commitment to our long-term prosperity that allows us to make the right long-term investments while delivering record results during such difficult economic times. In addition, from a process perspective, it is our policy to give quarterly and annual guidance. When there are macroeconomic changes; internal investments; restructuring; sales, margin and execution updates; modifications are refit that need to be communicated, we will pre-release updated estimates during the quarter as we did mid-September before the Citigroup conference in Boston. With the heightened economic volatility, it is more difficult to give accurate estimates quarter-to-quarter, but at the same time, we will not be constrained in how we run the company during our quarter because of our guidance. We focus on our long-term competitive position and long-term shareholder value, and we'll react quickly to changes in global market conditions. If you turn to Page 2 of the web pages now, I'll summarize the third quarter. Our total revenues were up 12%, with the core up 7%. Energy & Safety Solutions was up 15%, with the core up 9%, and Electrical Products Group was up 9%, with the core up 5%, solid performance. Our third quarter earnings per share, as I said, were $0.98, up 15% from last year and is the best earnings per share on a quarterly basis since the second and the third quarters of 2008, again on slightly less revenue from those periods.
Consolidated operating margins were 14.8%, down 60 basis points from the third quarter of 2010, not a great result. The Energy & Safety Solutions operating margins came in strong at 16.7%, Electrical Products Group margins were 13.9%, down 220 basis points from last year. We laid out several of the issues on our September 15th update, and as you'd expect, Dave will have a detailed page walking you through both the segment margins year-over-year later in the presentation.Our tools equity earnings were $16 million or $0.08 a share, in line with our guidance, and our free cash flow was strong again at $358 million year-to-date or $25 million ahead of last year, and we've laid out about $1 billion year-to-date on a variety of different activities that we'll walk you through. And again, we maintain great flexibility on the balance sheet. All in for the third quarter, our performance was strong given the tough macroeconomic environment, with record earnings per share and continued strong cash flow. If you turn to Page 3, the core electrical growth trends. First is that the third quarter was our sixth consecutive quarter of solid strong core growth despite 40% of the portfolio tied to construction markets that are still at very depressed levels. As you also note, looking at Q4, we come up against very difficult comps of a 14.1% core growth rate year-over-year. If you turn to Page 4, this is a new slide that we want to describe the macroeconomic environment by geographic region first. Clearly, the U.S. is entering the late stages of the economic cycle, still growing but at a very slow rate. Unemployment remains high, federal state deficits remain an issue, and required legislative policies seem to be uncertain in the election year. Europe is at or near recession levels with negative or 0 GDP growth. China's still forecasted to grow high single digits but accelerated inflation and tough lending standards will dampen the overall growth and investment outlook. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com