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I’ll now turn the call over to our President and Chief Executive Officer, Victor Garcia.Victor Garcia Thank you, Tim. Tim. Good afternoon. We are very pleased with our first quarter results and we continue to be very optimistic about the outlook for containers in 2012. For the first quarter we reported quarterly year-over-year revenue growth of 42% and an increase in earnings per fully diluted share up 12% to $0.73 per share. Typically the first quarter is our slowest, as our customers have more limited demand after the holiday season in the fourth quarter. As we expected, our utilization declined from 97% in the fourth quarter to 94% this quarter. The seasonal decline was modest and the majority of our redelivery in Asia, where demand will be strongest over the coming weeks. Over the past month, demand for containers has significantly improved for both new containers and depot equipment. Many of our customers are reporting cargo volume increases and due to the limited procurement in the second half of last year, are looking to lease new containers. As a result of increased demand by the shipping lines, container prices have increased from approximately $2,300 for a 20-foot container at the end of 2011 to a current price of approximately $2,600. And it appears to us that manufacturers are looking to increase prices further over the summer months. Premium rates on new containers have increased in line with container price increases. And we expect that trend to continue to the second quarter. With the cost of new containers increasing, premium rates on depot equipment are also improving and we have several bookings for depot equipment and we’ll improve our utilization over the coming months. Specifically, we have seen strong bookings for depot equipment out of China as well as Northern Europe, despite the ongoing European debt crisis. According to Clarkson Research Services, exports from Europe to Asia year-on-year through February have grown 13% although Asia to Europe trade has contracted slightly during the same time period.
Demand for equipment in two and out of the United States also appears to be strengthening with throughput volume at the U.S. West coast port in March growing 7.4% compared to the same month in the prior year. Additional shipping capacity is being added to the Asia to U.S. trade resulting in more of our containers being utilized for that service.As I mentioned, we believe demand for containers will be strong in 2012. Our view is that the current high utilization of worldwide lease fleet the limited capital budgets for purchase by shipping rights and limited new container production in the second half of 2011 along with an expected containerize trade growth of 7% forecast by Clarkson Research will result in a strong demand for containers and an increase in utilization particularly in the second half of 2012. During the first quarter of 2012 we purchased and leased out approximately $54 million of containers. We have an additional $185 million of containers on order with manufacturers of which more than $100 million is committed to be on lease with customers during the second quarter of 2012. We expect the remainder of our new equipment order to have lease opportunities over the next several weeks resulting in a year-to-date investment level being ahead of that achieved by us during the same period in 2011. We expect prices for containers being sold into the secondary market to be firm this year, due to the rising cost of new containers and high overall utilization of equipment, and we’re looking to increase prices in some higher demand locations. I will conclude by restating that we have enjoyed strong revenue and earnings growth over the past several quarters with a relatively tight supply and factoring inventory, improved growth within the U.S. and Northern European economies and continued strong trade amongst less developed regions, we are expecting ongoing growth of our business in 2012. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com