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Certain material assumptions were applied in making these conclusions of forecast. Therefore, actual results could differ materially from those contained in our forward-looking information. Additional information about these factors and assumptions are contained in our current quarterly report to our shareholders, as well as in our most recent annual report, MD&A and annual information form filed with Canadian and U.S. Securities Commissions, to which we direct you.I will now turn the call over to Mr. Mike Wilson. Michael M. Wilson Thank you, Richard, and welcome, to everyone joining us today. It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to review Agrium's second quarter results with you and provide an overview of our outlook for the crop input market as we look ahead the to rest of the year. Agrium's ability to capitalize on the strength and the agricultural fundamentals was on full display this quarter as we delivered net earnings of $5.44 per diluted share, which made the second quarter and first half of 2012 the strongest in company history. Our outstanding performances quarter was a result of strong earnings for all 3 of our business units, including record EBITDA for both Retail and Wholesale as we benefited from our significant competitive advantages and strong earnings leverage across the crop input sector. Our geographic and product diversity also enabled us to capture additional value this quarter, stemming from results in our crop production business and robust demand for crop inputs in late spring from Western Canada and the northern U.S. plains. In addition to delivering excellent operational results, we also took the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to returning capital to shareholders this quarter by more than doubling our semiannual dividend to $0.50 per share, our second substantial increase since December. We firmly believe that the proven strategy and strength across all of our businesses, combined with our solid and stable cash flow generation, will afford us the opportunity to continue to deliver achieving our growth objectives, while also enabling us to continue to provide further increases in return of excess capital to shareholders.
With this in mind, we announced the share repurchase program of $900 million in association with the sale of the Medicine Hat facility that was announced last night. The sale of the equity position in the Medicine Hat nitrogen facility represented a compelling return for this asset. In essence, Agrium will obtain the retail business from Viterra for about $175 million plus working capital of approximately $400 million.While our earnings are a testament to the strong demand for crop inputs that existed throughout the first half of the year, the outlook for our business for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013 is also very promising. Record grain and oilseed prices will provide growers around the world with the economic incentive to expand acreage and to optimize their use of Agrium's complete line of Agrium products and services. I'll return to discuss the outlook in more detail shortly, but we'll first take a few minutes to review our quarterly results. Our Retail results speak for themselves this quarter and illustrate our ability to continue successfully growing our earnings base by capturing the significant opportunity in the global crop input space. Retail achieved its highest second quarter and first half earnings in our history, with EBITDA topping $700 million for the first half. Retail EBITDA for the last 12 months surpassed $900 million, significantly demonstrating the rapid progress that we've made towards achieving earnings growth goal for retail. This is even before accounting for the future earnings from Viterra's retail assets. This strong performance was due to the continuation of robust demand for crop input products and services across all products and most regions. Retail's total EBITDA to sales margin rose to 9% in the first half of 2012 and over 10% in the North American market. Contributions from numerous small retail acquisitions made over the past 12 months added just over 2% to our sales in the first half of 2012, with a similar percentage contribution towards expenses and earnings during the period. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com