Our focus on financial, social and environmental outcomes continued to produce sustainable results in 2017 as we extended our record of meeting our commitments in metrics that matter to our shareholders. As shown in the charts on page 5, our adjusted continuing earnings per share were up 9% from the prior year, and we generated $1.3 billion of free cash flow—118% of adjusted net earnings.
This cash enabled us to retain a healthy balance sheet while returning significant cash to shareholders. At the same time, it allowed us to invest in product and service innovation as well as to pursue valueaccretive technology and channel acquisitions aimed at further improving long-term shareholder returns.
We remain committed to paying a competitive and growing dividend, totaling approximately $430 million in 2017. We deployed approximately $1 billion to repurchase shares and raised the quarterly dividend by approximately 12.5% to $0.45 per share, concluding 2017 at $1.80 annualized per share. Over the past five years, Ingersoll Rand has delivered a 153% total return for shareholders—far outpacing the S&P 500 Industrials Index.
We faced challenges in 2017, including persistent inflation, which we successfully offset through strong volume, productivity and price. Through operational excellence tools, we effectively managed these challenges and delivered against our commitments. We had strong topline results, and our industrial segment delivered strong operating performance and bookings as these markets improved.
153% total return for shareholders over the past 5 years
We launched 70 new major products and services in 2017, strengthening our digital capabilities and demonstrating our commitment to being environmentally responsible and productive at the same time.
For example, we launched a best-in-class mobile app to allow remote connectivity to TracKing™, Thermo King’s® fleet management system. We applied a breakthrough web-based platform called Trane GO, which enables residential customers to make more educated and sustainable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) purchasing decisions. We doubled the size of our EcoWise™ portfolio—products with reduced environmental impact through next-generation, low–global warming potential refrigerants and high-efficiency operation—significantly ahead of regulatory requirements. In addition, our Compression Technologies and Services business further grew its high-margin customer services worldwide with an array of new CARE service programs, including automated parts shipping and predictive diagnostics.
We are watchful for areas where we can be a leader in solving environmental and industrial challenges through organic growth and thoughtful acquisitions. Focused on channel and technology investments, we made several strategic acquisitions during the year, including the acquisition of CALMAC®, a company specializing in thermal energy storage solutions, and GPSi™, a provider of cloud-based technology solutions for fleet managers in various transportation markets, including education, golf and resorts. Our innovation pipeline is thriving, and we expect the climate and industrial segments to continue building on this growth momentum in 2018.
Our commitment to the Ingersoll Rand values—integrity, respect, teamwork, innovation and courage—continues to serve as the catalyst for our profitable growth. What matters to our success is not just what we do, but how we do it.
We respect and value diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives, and we understand that successful strategic execution requires high employee engagement. Our annual employee engagement scores continued to improve, reaching top-tier levels in our industry, and we are creating an environment in which our people can learn and thrive in an inclusive and progressive organization.
To reinforce our winning culture and commitment to workplace diversity, in 2017, we were the first in our industry to enter the Paradigm for Parity Coalition, a pledge to bring gender parity to our corporate leadership structure by 2030. With my signature, we also joined 150 of America’s leading CEOs in a pledge to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace through the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.
Ingersoll Rand is well positioned to deliver strong shareholder returns over the next several years. Our strategy is tied to attractive, healthy end markets and linked to long-term global trends. We continue to invest to strengthen our leadership position in markets around the world, and we are committed to dynamic and balanced deployment of capital.
I am more optimistic today about Ingersoll Rand’s prospects than at any time since I joined the company. We are fully committed to creating lasting value for our stakeholders and society as we innovate to transform everyday life.
Michael W. Lamach
Chairman and CEO