Dow Chemical Co (NYSE:DOW) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jul 23, 2020 • 08:00 am ET
continue to see additional cash flow upside.
From a top line perspective, net sales were near the high end of our guidance range, driven by solid demand in pandemic-related applications and in geographies that are leading the economic recovery. We delivered volume growth in consumer staples, including packaging, health and hygiene, home care and pharma end markets. However, it was more than offset by declines in consumer durable end markets. We achieved notable improvements in Asia Pacific with 3% year-over-year volume growth and 13% quarter-over-quarter, largely driven by China as Asian economies continued to reopen and gain momentum.
And while Europe and North America were generally slower to restart, especially with the delay in key industries like autos and construction, we are now seeing positive demand indicators across most of our segments. In line with our focus on cash generation, we maintained our financial and operational strength and flexibility. In the quarter, we released $526 million of cash from working capital, driving our cash flow from operations higher in yet another quarter, consistent with the expectations that we shared at our first quarter earnings call. We continued to deliver on the expense reduction that we previously committed and strategically idled assets to balance production to demand.
And we're taking additional actions to maintain our strength and flexibility by increasing our expense savings target and initiating a restructuring program to ensure our competitiveness, while the economic recovery gains traction. Howard will talk more about this in a moment. Our strong cash generation enabled us to also deliver on our capital allocation priorities. We maintained safe and reliable operations, returned $516 million to shareholders via our industry-leading dividend and paid down $600 million in debt during the quarter, with net debt reduction of approximately $740 million year to date.
And finally, we continue to advance the key pillars of our ambition for long-term value creation, which you'll see on Slide 4. We stayed close to our customers to manage through this historic period, introducing GPS shipment tracking to help customers better monitor their delivery and plan their operation, something that has proven to be exceptionally valued by our customers. We launched our new MobilityScience platform to enable easier and better access to our solutions for the transportation sector. And as the transportation industry recovers, our expertise, relationships and unmatched product portfolio enable us to innovate across the value chain, increasing our competitiveness.
We also launched an ambitious set of new sustainability targets as well as a set of actions that Dow will take to advance anti-racism, inclusion and diversity. We believe these actions are the right thing to do, and they will further drive long-term competitive advantage and value for Dow and all of our stakeholders. I'm proud of the Dow team for their disciplined execution and their focus on operational excellence and cash generation, which are critical to navigating in this challenging environment. As the economy gradually return, we will continue to leverage our financial and operational flexibility, deliver differentiated value