We will post a replay of this conference call on our website as we've done in the past. AptarGroup undertakes no obligation to update the forward-looking information. And at this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Steve Hagge.Steve Hagge Thanks, Matt, and good morning, everyone. I'm pleased to report that 2011 was another record year for AptarGroup. I'd like to recognize the hard work of our talented employees have put into our business this past year. Their dedication is the reason for our success and why we're the leader in our industry. As we look back on 2011 it was an exciting year. We began reporting the results of our newly aligned business segments. Each of our three segments reported sales growth over the prior year. We entered new market categories. We expanded our global presence. And we enhanced shareholder value. I'll briefly recap the full year performance of our segments and then comment on the fourth quarter. I'll begin with our Beauty and Home segment, which completed the year with organic sales growth of 6%. Demand for our products from the fragrance, cosmetic and household markets remained strong throughout much of the year, while demand from our personal care market also increased over the prior year. However, profit margins were pressured due to a competitive market, under utilized capacity towards the end of the year, increased professional fees and our overall product mix. Our Pharma segment had an outstanding year with strong organic sales growth of 10%. We entered a new category in the consumer healthcare segment with our preservative free Ophthalmic dispenser and we saw continued growth in our prescription segment, particularly from the strong demand from the generic market in the US. Our Pharma segment's profitability remained strong throughout the year reflecting our ability to help our customers grow in this highly specialized and regulated industry.
Our newest segment, Food and Beverage, also had a good year posting organic sales growth up 18% primarily driven by strong demand for our unique dispensing systems for beverage products. An example of a new category that we entered in 2011 is the water flavoring category. Kraft Foods launched their MiO Water Enhancer using our custom simply squeeze closure and they've expanded their line recently and we're now selling an energy version.In spite of our strong sales growth profitability was restrained by costs to establish this new segment and start up costs associated with a new facility in the US. With our ability to generate strong free cash flow we're able to invest in several growth opportunities during the year. In May, we announced that we had purchased a facility in Lincolnton, North Carolina that will become our first facility dedicated to serving to our food and beverage customers. I'm happy to say that the retrofitting of the facility has gone according to plan. We've hired a terrific team and we're on schedule to begin production in the first quarter of this year. In October, we announced that we had purchased an injection molder in India to expand our presence there to serve our multi national and also local customers. The company we purchased had been a licensee of our products since 2006. Also at that the time we announced that we're opening a clean room manufacturing facility in India to server our Indian pharmaceutical customers as they grow in India and abroad. I'm also happy to report that this facility was dedicated in January and production will begin in the first quarter. We've also upgraded and expanded our capacity in other important regions, such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China. And in November, we announced that we'd entered into the auto injector field through an acquisition of a minority stake in UK-based medical device company called Oval Medical Technologies.
So with these steps we're in excellent position to continue our long-term growth. Our strong financial condition in 2011 also allowed us to take action to enhance shareholder returns. In July, we increased our quarterly dividend 22%. This equates to an $0.88 per share dividend for the full year. In 2011 we returned approximately $53 million to shareholders in the form of dividend payments.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com