For fiscal 2012, cash flow from operating activities before net change in working capital, interest received and income taxes paid was $159.7 million compared to $202.3 million in 2011. The net change in working capital was negative and amounted to $14.9 million in 2012, compared to a net change of $66.7 million in 2011. This significant variation is due to higher inventories of certain products in order to take advantage of particularly attractive purchase conditions and the abnormally low level of comparable inventories in 2011. After the net change in working capital, interest received and income taxes paid, operating activities thus generated $125.5 million in 2012, compared to $230.2 million for the same period of 2011.
The Corporation continued to exercise disciplined financial management and strictly controlled its investments in property, plant and equipment. For fiscal 2012, RONA invested $86.4 million in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets, which was $23.0 million, or 21.1% less than in 2011. Investments were concentrated in continuous improvement of the Corporation's information systems to increase operational efficiency, and in maintenance. The level of investment in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets -- excluding investments related to the New Realities, New Solutions plan, which will be financed through the sale of surplus assets -- remains similar to amortization and depreciation expense, which amounted to $96.4 million in 2012.
Since 2011, RONA has taken a number of steps to optimize its capital structure. Also, in November 2011, the Corporation set up a program to repurchase, in the normal course of its activities between November 11, 2011 and November 10, 2012, up to 11,016,854 common shares, representing 10% of its 110,168,541 public float or 8.4% of its 130,520,489 common shares issued and outstanding on October 31, 2011. Since the repurchase program was instituted in November 2011, the Corporation has bought back 10.4 million shares at an average price of $9.47 per share for a total of $98.5 million at November 10, 2012. These shares were cancelled. RONA did not renew its normal course issuer bid following the expiration of the previous program on November 10, 2012.
Despite a slight increase in leverage, RONA's balance sheet remains strong. As at December 30, 2012, the Corporation's total debt was $328.0 million compared to $256.7 million in 2011. The Corporation's net debt amounted to $307.0 million, compared to $239.6 million at December 25, 2011. The ratio of total net debt to capital was 14.0%, compared to 10.9% in 2011. The ratio of total debt to EBITDA before unusual items remained stable at 1.6.
Achievements with regards to financial priorities
"Our actions are always dictated by our three financial priorities, added Dominique Boies. This disciplined approach is focused on achieving a medium term return on capital greater than 10%. We have made steady progress in this area during the four consecutive quarters ending on June 24, 2012. This upward trend was interrupted in the last two quarters, as a more competitive environment and a change in our sales mix in favour of lower-margin products affected our operating income. However, the continuation of our capital structure optimization initiatives, namely disciplined investment management, allowed us to mitigate the impact of the decrease on our return on capital and protect our strong balance sheet."
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