With that, let me turn it over to Tony.Anthony Allott Thanks, Kim. Welcome, everyone, to Silgan’s 2011 year-end earnings conference call. I’m going to start by making a few comments about the achievements during the year, then Bob will carry on and review the financial performance for the year and the quarter, talk a bit about our outlook for next year and then we’ll be happy to take any questions that you might have. As you’ve seen in the press release, 2011 was another record year for Silgan as we delivered adjusted earnings per diluted share of $2.63, up from a very strong prior year in which we delivered an adjusted $2.22 per diluted share. As expected, 2011 benefited from significant investments made in the latter part of 2010 and throughout 2011 as we deployed capital towards acquisitions and organic investments, improved our debt capital structure, repurchased shares and initiated several restructuring plans. Among the milestones leading to the successes in 2011, we achieved record adjusted earnings per diluted share of $2.63, an increase of 18.5% over 2010 results; completed the acquisitions of Vogel & Noot and DGS in March 2011; and successfully integrated them along with IPEC operations acquired in the fourth quarter of 2010. We enhanced our market positions in the US food can industry by acquiring the self-make steel can operations from Nestlé Purina PetCare. We continue to invest in each of our businesses and took advantage of tax incentives in 2011 through capital spending of $173 million, including approximately $24 million for plant expansions into Eastern European metal containers markets. We commercialized the new food can manufacturing facility in the Krasnodar region of Russia, a key agricultural area. We upsized the company’s senior secured credit facility to $1.9 billion and amended it to provide greater flexibility, additional borrowing capacity and extended maturities.
We increased the cash dividend by approximately 5% to $0.44 per share. We generated $359.6 million of cash from operations, despite an increase in working capital to support acquisitions, start-up operations and ongoing operational flexibility. And we authorized further repurchases of up to $300 million of the company’s common stock, of which $15.8 million was repurchased in 2011.In summary, we remain committed to our discipline of building our franchise market positions through prudent investment and believe this discipline will allow us to continue to create significant value for our shareholders. As you can see in our outlook, we believe we are well positioned for 2012 as we expect to deliver mid-to-high single-digit earnings growth from the existing business and enjoy a very strong balance sheet with available capacity to further enhance shareholder returns as opportunities arise. With that, I’ll turn it over to Bob. Robert Lewis Thank you, Tony. Good morning, everyone. There is no question 2011 was another strong year for Silgan as adjusted earnings per diluted share increased 18.5% to $2.63, representing a $0.41 per share improvement versus the prior year. The strength of our business franchises really came through as 2011 was one of the more tenuous years in terms of the overall business environment. We experienced volatile economic conditions across the globe, a historically weak US fruit and vegetable pack, volatile pricing of commodities, and ongoing operational challenges in our plastic business. These headwinds were mitigated by solid operating performance in our metal containers and closures businesses, the benefits of newly acquired and integrated operations and share repurchases in late 2010. On a consolidated basis, net sales for the year were $3.510 billion, an increase of $437.7 million or 14.3% from the prior year as each business delivered sales gains for the year. We converted these sales to net income for the year of $193.2 million compared to 2010 net income of $144.6 million.
Interest expense before loss on early extinguishment of debt increased $8.9 million, primarily due to higher average outstanding borrowings in 2011 as a result of acquisition financing, the November 2010 share repurchase activity, and the incremental term loan associated with the refinancing of our senior secured credit facility in July of 2011.Our 2011 effective tax rate of 33.4% is generally in line with expectations and 140 basis points lower than the prior year as 2010 was negatively impacted by the non-deductible portion of the charge for the re-measurement of net assets in Venezuela. Full year capital expenditures totaled $173 million, which is significantly higher than the 2010 spend of $105.4 million and modestly higher than our forecasted level as we chose to compress capital spending in 2011 to maximize the deduction for capital put into service in the year. And we deployed $24 million to support expansion in the eastern markets, particularly the new plant commercialized in Russia. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com