This is the third consecutive year of dividend increases since our IPO on NASDAQ in 2009. We continued in the quarter our unending focus on driving out cost from our business. This quarter we saw the positive impact of our many cost reduction initiatives. Costs were down from the last quarter in almost every one of our plants by an aggregate amount of more than $4 million and we also had a significant reduction in working capital as we focused on inventory turns and other such working capital metrics.In the last quarter, on June 13 th, we acquired a 51% interest in Quebec Silicon LP. The total net cash break was $34 million, which is approximately a third of the cost to build a new plant with much less risk and in much less time. Although the plant and its operations require a certain improvements, this facility is one of the most modern silicon plants in the western world and the only silicon metal producer in Canada. With this acquisition, Globe is now the only merchant silicon producer in North America. We have identified numerous opportunities to improve the operation and we will implement them over the next six to nine months. We selected one of our strongest and most experienced silicon production managers to assemble and lead a team of some of the best skilled operations people in the company to drive improvements at the plant. They each have specific areas of expertise, and are on the ground early on the first day working with the production people to implement overall operational improvement initiatives. These changes should lead to improved efficiency at the furnaces, lower labor costs and increased output. In addition to this, we have already seen improvements in the performance of the furnaces with the addition of our specialty low ash Alden coal. Our Alden coal operation is now meeting expectations and contributes meaningfully to our costs and silicon operations.
Silicon sale for the balance of 2012 continue to be steady driven by demand from the chemicals, aluminum and solar markets we serve. The outlook for the steel industry, the end-market for our ferrosilicon is trending positively and strong demand from auto and energy sectors are fueling steel consumption in the U.S. Demand for our specialty alloys sold to foundries continues to grow as the U.S. automotive demand remained strong.We remain optimistic about the markets for our silicon metal, silicon alloys, silica fume and specialty low ash coal. We are seeing early signs of increasing demand in many end markets as some of our customers request more supply than anticipated. We will continue to drive operating initiatives in order to improve productivity, lower our costs, and increase cash flow. In closing, as always, we will continue to pursue accretive growth opportunities that will enhance shareholder value. Mal? Malcolm Appelbaum Thank you, Jeff. We have a few financial related slides, which you'll view automatically if you are listening to the call through our website. Just click on the maximize button on the bottom of the window to expand the slide to full screen, otherwise the slides are posted in the events and presentation section of our website www.glbsm.com. EBITDA on a comparable basis for the fourth quarter increased 10% over the third quarter, primarily due to higher shipments and reduced cash production cost partially offset by an expected modest reduction in average selling prices. Silicon metal shipments increased 17% in the fourth quarter for a total of 5,100 metric tons over the third quarter with approximately half of the increase coming from the timing of customer shipments and half from the newly purchased Quebec Silicon. Silicon based alloy shipments increased 2% in the quarter. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com