*EBITDA is defined as operating income plus depreciation, amortization and impairment charges/(reversals) and
in 2012 excludes a non-recurring gain of $49.2 million, recorded in Other operating income corresponding to a tax related lawsuit collected in Brazil.
In 2012, net sales increased by 9%. Sales of OCTG products and services increased in most regions, led by North America, but sales of offshore line pipe in the Middle and Far East and sales of industrial products in Europe declined significantly. Sales of premium OCTG products rose particularly strongly and contributed to a more profitable product mix. Operating income and EBITDA margins improved reflecting the product mix, lower raw material costs and better absorption of fixed costs. Earnings per share rose 28% for the year and included a positive contribution from our acquisition of the non-controlling interest in our Brazilian subsidiary, Confab.
Cash flow from operations amounted to $1.9 billion for the year. After investments of $1.3 billion in Brazil ($504.6 million in Usiminas and $758.5 million in Confab), capital expenditure of $789.8 million and dividend payments of $448.6 million, our financial position at December 31, 2012, amounted to a net debt position (total borrowings less cash and other current investments) of $271.3 million, compared with a net cash position of $323.6 million at December 31, 2011.
Appointment of Chief Financial Officer
Effective as of July 1, 2013, Edgardo Carlos will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer, replacing Ricardo Soler.
Mr. Carlos previously served as our Corporate Financial Manager, as Administration & Finance Regional Director for Mexico and Central America, and currently holds the position of Economic and Financial Planning Director.
Annual Dividend Proposal
The board of directors proposes, for the approval of the annual general shareholders' meeting to be
held on May 2, 2013, the payment of an annual dividend of $0.43 per share ($0.86 per ADS), or approximately $507.6 million, which includes the interim dividend of $0.13 per share ($0.26 per ADS), or approximately $153.5 million, paid in November, 2012. If the annual dividend is approved by the shareholders, a dividend of $0.30 per share ($0.60 per ADS), or approximately $354.2 million will be paid on May 23, 2013, with an ex-dividend date of May 20, 2013.
Market Background and Outlook
Demand for energy continues to increase, despite a weak economic recovery, and oil prices are at levels which should continue to support investment in exploration and production activity during 2013.
In North America, drilling activity in the second half of 2012 was affected by continuing low natural gas prices and lower liquids prices largely resulting from regional infrastructure restraints. In 2013, we expect drilling activity to recover gradually from current levels but to remain, on average, slightly below the level of 2012.
In the rest of the world, drilling activity should increase led by the growth in the exploration and development of deepwater and unconventional reserves. In 2013, we expect higher levels of demand for premium OCTG products particularly in regions such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Overall sales growth is expected to be moderate as higher oil and gas sales in Eastern Hemisphere markets are largely offset by lower sales in North America and in European industrial markets.
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