Sales of $10.1 billion were up 5% on a reported and organic basis, and the growth was pervasive throughout the portfolio. We’ll dive into some of the business specifics in a moment but we’re encouraged by the improvement in organic sales growth as we’ve progressed throughout the year. Remember, it was 1% in the first quarter, 3% in the second quarter and now 5% in third quarter.
On a regional basis organic sales were up 5% in the US, 1% in Europe, 4% in China and double digits in a number of our other high-growth regions. In Europe we have experienced stable growth rates in the first three quarters of the year, modest growth rates which are very consistent with what we saw in 2012 and 2013. We are planning more of the same for Europe in the fourth quarter and into 2015.
As for China, the growth was impacted by our deliberate shift of resins and chemicals exports to other parts of Southeast Asia. So excluding that, our China sales would have been up 7% in the quarter. On a similar basis, we expect China to grow sales faster than GDP for the full year.
Segment profit growth and margin expansion were both strong in the quarter. Segment profit increased 9% while segment margins expanded 70 basis points to 17.4%, which by the way is 20 basis points more than our guidance. We had profit growth and margin expansion in each of our three SBGs, so again, a balanced contribution across the portfolio.
The businesses benefited from higher volume in the quarter, and productivity continued to be a key driver of margin expansion. These elements more than offset inflation and our continued investments for growth in sales, marketing, and product development.
Items below segment profit were mostly as anticipated and so our net income increased 14% normalized for tax – not bad paired with a 5% sales increase. Also we funded $21 million of restructuring projects in the quarter, bringing the year-to-date total to approximately $120 million.
The third quarter tax rate came in at 24.6% versus 27.2% in 2013 and versus the 26.5% we planned. There are a number of moving parts that sometimes make the tax rates vary quarter by quarter. However we continue to expect a tax rate of 26.5% for the full year consistent with our initial planning.
So reported earnings per share of $1.47 in the quarter, up 19% versus the prior year. Normalizing for tax, EPS would have been $1.43, up 14% which is $0.01 above the high end of the guidance we provided in July. Even with essentially flat share count we once again achieved double-digit EPS driven primarily by stronger sales and segment margins.
Finally, free cash flow of $1 billion in the quarter was 12% higher than 2013 despite an approximate 28% increase in CapEx investments. Overall another strong quarter, giving us confidence heading into the last three months of the year.