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Due primarily to the burden of restructuring charges on the results of the prior-year quarter, operating profit (EBIT) increased by 51.8%, from 191 million euros to 290 million euros. After adjusting for one-time gains and charges and restructuring charges totaling 95 million euros, adjusted operating profit (“adjusted EBIT”) decreased slightly by 1.5%, from 391 million euros to 385 million euros.
Return on sales (EBIT margin) was 8.3%, while adjusted return on sales (“adjusted EBIT margin”) increased from 10.4% to 11.0%.
The investment result fell from 24 million euros to 0 million euros due to the sale of the company’s stake in Ecolab in November 2008. Net interest expense improved by 32 million euros, from –72 million euros to –40 million euros, largely attributable to lower interest rates compared to the previous year. Consequently, the financial result improved from –48 million euros to –40 million euros. The tax rate amounted to 28.0%.
Due to the increased EBIT, net earnings for the quarter rose by 68.2%, from 107 million euros to 180 million euros. After deducting minority interests of 8 million euros, quarterly net earnings totaled 172 million euros compared to 101 million euros in the third quarter of 2008. Adjusted quarterly net earnings after minority interests amounted to 240 million euros versus 251 million euros in the prior-year quarter. Earnings per preferred share increased from 0.23 euros to 0.39 euros. The adjusted figure was 0.55 euros compared to 0.59 euros in the prior-year quarter.
Thanks to a strong cash flow performance, net debt was further reduced compared to the end of the second quarter of 2009 by some 700 million euros to 3.2 billion euros. Good progress was also made with regard to working capital management: compared to the prior-year period, the ratio of net working capital to sales improved from 12.8% to 10.3%.