So with that, I'll turn the call over to John.John D. Williams Thank you, Pascal. Good morning, everyone. This morning, we reported first quarter EBITDA before items of $210 million. Both our Paper and our Personal Care businesses delivered according to plan in the first quarter. However, these results were overshadowed by trough market pulp prices and higher costs when compared to the fourth quarter. Moving to my business review in papers. Volumes were modestly higher than quarter 4, driven by stronger demand for commercial printing grades, as well as some seasonal strength. Worth noting is the decline in our paper volumes from prior year, which is mostly attributable to larger-than-usual export volume in the first quarter of 2011. In specialty paper grades, our volumes continue to grow. Specialty and packaging papers increased to 13% of our total paper shipments, mainly through the realization of new business opportunities. The recent supply agreement with Appleton Papers will allow us to further expand into areas that provide a stronger platform for growth while compensating for the decline in high-volume communication paper grades. In pulp, the negative impact of market pulp prices affected our quarterly results by about $15 million versus the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the announced price increases will positively affect our financial performance in the second quarter. Finally, we announced and completed the acquisition of Attends Europe, further expanding our Personal Care segment. Daniel will discuss further, but we incurred acquisition costs that affected our SG&A line. We will realize a full quarter of earnings in our Personal Care segment beginning in the second quarter. In summary, we had a good start to 2012 despite lower prices in pulp. Our Paper business continues to deliver a strong performance. We sold all of our paper production, maintained margins, continued to improve our product mix and signed a key supply agreement with Appleton Papers.
With these brief remarks, I'll turn the call over to Daniel for the financial review, and I'll come back with the outlook. Daniel?Daniel Buron Thank you, John, and good morning, everyone. Let's start by going over the financial highlights of the quarter on Slide 4. We reported net earnings of $0.76 per share for the first quarter compared to net earnings of $1.63 per share for the fourth quarter of 2011. Adjusting for items, our earnings were $1.65 per share in the first quarter compared to earnings of $2.49 per share for the fourth quarter. EBITDA before items amounted to $210 million compared to $243 million in the fourth quarter. Cash flow provided from operating activities amounted to $30 million, capital expenditures were at $29 million, therefore, free cash flow totaled $1 million. Excluding premium paid in relation to our tender offer on certain notes, free cash flow was $48 million in the quarter. Turning to earnings reconciliation on Slide 5. Our first quarter earnings included the following after-tax items: Premium paid and costs incurred related to the debt repurchase of $30 million; closure and restructuring costs, including write-down of property, plant and equipment of $2 million; and the negative impact of purchase accounting of $1 million. Turning to the sequential variation in earnings on Slide 6. Sales were $29 million higher than the fourth quarter, mostly due to higher paper shipments and higher sales in our Personal Care segment. SG&A was $12 million higher in Q1, mostly due to transaction cost of $5 million related to the acquisition of Attends Europe and some favorable adjustment that took place in the fourth quarter. Including our new Personal Care segment, our normal SG&A expense should be approximately $95 million per quarter. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com