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Means to access this conference call via webcast was disclosed in the press release was posted on our corporate website. Replay to this conference call will be archived and available for seven days.A supplemental financial presentation has been produced, which provides a summary of certain financial and end market information to be reviewed in today’s commentary by management. We have filed the supplemental presentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission and posted it on our corporate website. This conference call may include forward-looking statements and therefore, actual results may differ materially from expectations. For additional information on WESCO International, please refer to the company’s SEC filings, including the risk factors described therein. The following presentation may also include a discussion of certain non-GAAP financial measures. Information required by Regulation G with respect to such non-GAAP financial measures can be obtained via WESCO’s website at www.wesco.com. I would now like to turn the conference call over to John Engel. John Engel Thank you, Dan and good morning everyone. Pleasure to be with you this morning. We are off to a good start in 2012. Our first quarter results reflect a continued execution of our one WESCO growth strategy. We have now posted selling consecutive quarters of double-digits sales growth and six consecutive quarters of EPS growth of well over 25% on a year-over-year basis. In the first quarter we generated good momentum in all of our end markets. Organic sales to customers were up double-digits in industrial and utility, and we are up mid-single digits in construction and CIG. In addition, with the exception of Data communication sales which were down mid-single digits, sales for our other five major product categories increased in the quarter. Backlog also grew and was up 5% versus last year and up 7% versus year end 2011. Notably, we closed out the quarter with very strong results in March where we delivered the highest sales per workday for any month in our history. So far in April sales are up mid-single digits.
Consistent execution of our LEAN and margin improvement initiative continues and have translated in the strong financial results. Operating margins of 5.2%, net income of $53 million and EPS of $1.03 in the first quarter were up 70 basis points, 42% and 39% respectively versus prior year.The growth in net income was well above the high end of our 20% to 25% range which we communicated in our investor day in August of last year. In addition, free cash flow generation was strong in the quarter and exceeded net income. Our investments are clearly paying off. Effective execution of our growth strategy continues and we are pleased with our business results to start the year. In January, we completed the acquisition of RS Electronics, our fifth acquisition since mid-2010. These five acquired companies had annualized sales of approximately $460 million as of their respective closing dates. With liquidity increasing to over $570 million and financial leverage dropping to 2.1 at the end of first quarter, we have the capacity and financial flexibility to continue to fund our strategy of above market organic growth plus secretive acquisitions. Our acquisition pipeline remains robust and we see excellent opportunities for acquisitions to further expand and strengthen our portfolio. In summary, we are operating in 2012 with a stronger and more diverse business. Stronger and more diverse in terms of customers and end markets, products and suppliers and geographies. Our long term outlook remains unchanged. We expect the economy to recover slowly over the next several years. We expect the industrial and utility end markets to continue to grow and construction and Data communications to improve in the second half of 2012. We are continuing to invest in our growth engine and our six operational excellence initiatives. We have generated strong momentum across our company over the last few years and are focused on executing our one WESCO growth strategy, which provides customers with a leading supply chain solutions they need that meet their global MRO, OEM and capital project requirements. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com