I would like to remind everyone that statements made on this call that are not historical fact or that express a belief, expectation or intention, including statements about our financial and operational outlook, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States securities laws. These statements are not guarantees of future performance. A number of assumptions, which we believe are reasonable, were made in connection with the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from our expectations.For more information with respect to risks, uncertainties and the other factors which could cause our actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements, we direct you to the news release we issued last night and the risk factors and management's discussion and analysis of financial conditions and results of operation in our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q as filed with the SEC. All forward-looking-statements are qualified in their entirety by such factors. Our earnings news release, which is posted on our website at intrepidpotash.com, includes a reconciliation of certain non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures, including adjusted EBITDA, which will be used on this call. All references to tons are the short tons of 2,000 pounds. I'll now turn the call over to Bob Jornayvaz. Robert P. Jornayvaz Thanks, Will, and thanks to those joining us today to learn more about Intrepid's accomplishments and our first quarter 2012 results. Our first quarter performance continued to demonstrate the successful execution of our business plan. We earned $0.27 per diluted share or net income of $20.6 million, and our adjusted EBITDA was $44.7 million. Our balance sheet remained debt-free with $175 million of cash and investments at the end of the first quarter 2012 while deploying $30.8 million towards the execution of our robust capital investment plan.
Our strong customer relationships were an integral part of our success during the first quarter of 2012. I'm paying close attention to the diverse sales opportunities available to us. In our regional markets, we were able to sell a healthy volume of our various products. Our marketing ability, combined with our geographic advantage and diverse market profile, assisted us in remaining competitive in the markets we serve while delivering excellent margins on each ton we produce.Our consistent financial and marketing performance is an important part of the Intrepid story. However, we are equally proud of the significant progress that we are making on our numerous capital projects, which will increase our production. These projects will improve the flexibility of our operations and help to maximize the margin on each ton produced. As Intrepid brings on higher volumes of potash at lower costs, we expect to continue to expand our margins. Our margins are already the best in North America. Others focus on the presentation of their costs. However, we focus on actual margin. Let me be quite clear. On average, for the past 5 years, Intrepid generated more cash to the bottom line on the production and sale of a ton of potash than our North American competitors. Not to be overly redundant, but some talk about lower costs but after costs, royalties, taxes and higher net back sales prices, Intrepid consistently delivers more margin. We believe margin is the most important aspect of the business. Our 5-year track record of generating the highest margin is not an aberration or a fluke, it is simply value creation. The approval of the HB Solar Solution Mine and the start of construction in March is a major milestone for Intrepid. Many of you on the call today have listened patiently over the last 3 years as we have described our navigation of the permitting and Environmental Impact Statement process and the deliberate steps we have undertaken to keep the project moving forward. I'm extremely pleased that the time and effort that our people have invested in working closely with local, state and federal agencies, as well as the local community, has brought the process to a successful outcome and strengthened the relationships we have with each of the groups involved in the process. Upon receiving the Record of Decision in late March, we immediately began construction of the HB Solar Solution Mine project, utilizing the detailed plan we had assembled during the summer of 2011. First production from HB is expected in late 2013, ramping into 2014 and reaching full production in 2015. The HB Mine is expected to increase our potash production by approximately 25% and allows us to continue to capitalize on our solution mining and solar evaporation expertise. Beyond the increased production volumes of potash, which should not be overlooked, as the impact that the HB Mine will have on our overall cost profile. The HB Mine will be one of the lowest-cost potash mines in North America and will enable us to further earn a greater margin on each ton we sell. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com