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Before handing over to Marijn I would also like to draw your attention to the Safe Harbor statement. Thank you. Marijn?Marijn Dekkers Thanks Alexander. Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It's my pleasure to speak with you about Bayer's encouraging start to 2012. We delivered record sales and high earnings in the quarter. Our innovation pipeline delivered good progress and we again reported positive results from our key pharma pipeline line assets. We are increasingly confident for the rest of this year and confirm our 2012 financial outlook. So, let me know elaborate some key figures for the first quarter. And when talking about sales outcomes in trade on portfolio and currency adjusted data. Group sales gross by 5% to the records level of €10.1 billion. All the sub-groups contributed to the increase particularly, CropScience, which experienced a strong start to the season. Reported EBIT grew sharply by 43% to €1.60 billion mainly due to lower special charges and the improved operating performance. The special charges up €169 million versus €442 million in the prior year quarter comprised a partial impairment loss of €100 million recognized on the company in [Netred] also included restructuring charges of €39 million and litigation related expenses of €30 million. Adjusted EBIDTA advanced by 9% to €2.4 billion driven by positive business development of health care and significant draw in gains at CropScience. In addition, positive currency effects of €85 million mainly at HealthCare and CropScience contributed to the increase. Earnings of MaterialScience came in below the prior year period due to higher raw material costs but showed the expected increase against the weak fourth quarter of 2011. Core earnings per share came in at a €1.68, an increase of 16% over the prior year quarter. From a regional perspective, in the first quarter, we saw the stronger growth in the United States where business moved ahead by 10% in the quarter driven by the strong business expansion at CropScience and solid growth at MaterialScience.
In the emerging economies we achieved a 6% sales increase. These markets accounted for 33% of good sales. The highest growth rates were in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa and the Middle East. Emerging Asia grew by 1%.Business development was impacted by lower sales in Thailand and Taiwan. Gross cash flow in the first quarter advanced by 22% to €1.6 billion due to the improved operating performance. Cash tied up in working capital increased markedly due to the expansion of business. Net cash flow was down by 66% year-on-year at €271 million. After investments of €256 million, the operating free cash flow came in at €15 million. Net financial debt fell since the start of the year from €7.1 billion to €6.9 billion mainly as a result of positive currency effects. Let's now move to the performance of our subgroups. Sales of the HealthCare subgroup came to €4.3 billion, an improvement of 2% over the same period of last year. All divisions contributed to this growth. Sales in Pharmaceutical segment rose by 2% to €2.5 billion. Growth was achieved mainly in the emerging markets especially China. There were slight decreases in some other countries particularly in Europe. The development of our key pharma products was mixed in the quarter. Kogenate came 2% due to higher volumes through tender business. As expected Betaferon were slightly down from previous year. Volume decline especially in North America were only partially offset by selling price increase. Nexavar developed well particularly and advanced by 5%. Revenues from Mirena increased in all regions as a result of higher volumes especially in the United States. Avalox and Levitra were down 13% and 9% respectively because of a partial restructuring of distribution from general medicines products in the United States. Aspirin Cardio advanced by 16% driven by the continued expansion of our marketing activities in China. Xarelto generated sales of €42 million following market launches in further countries and the expansion of indications.
Sales of our YAZ family of products were at the prior year level. The decline in Europe due to generic competition being offset by gains in other region.Please allow me to update on the litigation surrounding YAZ and Yasmin. As of April 18, 2012, the number of lawsuits pending in the United States and served upon Bayer was about 11,900 involving about 14,000 plaintiffs excluding cases already settled. As of April 19, 2012, Bayer has reached agreements without admission of liability to settle the claims of 651 plaintiffs in the US for a total amount of about US$142 million. Bayer is only settling claims in the US for venous clot injuries, which is deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism after a case specific analysis of medical records on a rolling basis. The number of such injuries cannot be estimated at this time however less than half of the cases served to date allege such an injury. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com