Third-quarter net sales of $1,107 million decreased 3.4% year-over-year, including a 2% negative foreign currency impact and negative 1.8% inorganic impact primarily associated with the second quarter 2019 sale of the company's interest in a consolidated China powder JV.
Constant currency organic net sales increased 0.4% in the period, driven by 3.8% higher average price and product mix from all regions and both segments offset by 3.4% lower volumes.
Light Vehicle saw continued price improvement of 2.8% versus the prior year. Lower volumes included the impact from most end-markets other than Commercial Vehicle, reflecting slower global macro trends, some impact from customer strikes in North America Light Vehicle, and moderate volume weakness from the Performance Coatings end-markets across multiple regions.
Income from operations for the third quarter totaled $123.0 million compared with $47.8 million in Q3 2018. The increase was primarily driven by the absence of the charges incurred in Q3 2018 related to the announced closure of the company's Mechelen, Belgium manufacturing facility and other Axalta Way productivity initiatives of $82.4 million offset by new severance charges of $29.2 million in Q3 2019.
The increase in income from operations was also driven by the benefit of higher average price and product mix and lower stock-based compensation expense year-over-year. This was offset partly by slightly lower net sales from lower volumes as well as foreign exchange impact and modest headwind from ongoing variable cost inflation in the period.
Adjusted EBIT of $191.2 million for the third quarter increased 17% versus $163.4 million in Q3 2018. This result was driven by a strong contribution from higher average price and product mix and improved productivity and lower stock-based compensation expense, partly offset by lower volumes across most end-markets except Commercial Vehicle, as well as by modest year-over-year variable cost inflation and negative foreign currency translation impacts.
"Axalta's third-quarter results were strong both in reported operating profit and in free cash flow. We achieved ongoing organic constant currency net sales growth driven by our Refinish and Commercial Vehicle end-markets, partially offset by lower sales reported in Light Vehicle and Industrial end-markets due largely to cyclical demand factors. Axalta further posted significantly improved year-over-year operating profit, led by solid increases in average price and product mix which continue to help to offset variable cost inflation experienced since early 2017," said Robert W. Bryant, Axalta's CEO. "As we continue to seek offsets to cost inflation, we reported solid continued overall price recapture across nearly all end-markets and regions. This included a 2.8% increase in average price-mix in Light Vehicle coatings in the period which is now our fourth consecutive quarter of positive pricing. We also continued to progress with structural cost reduction and productivity improvement, which helped offset volume reductions in the third quarter and put us on pace to hit full-year targets for Axalta Way related savings. We remain engaged in the strategic review process that began in June, and we will update the market as appropriate but have nothing specific to share at this point."
Performance Coatings third-quarter net sales were $723.7 million, a decrease of 4.3% year-over-year. Constant currency organic net sales increased 0.7% in the period before the net negative M&A-related impact of 2.7% driven by the sale of a powder joint venture in China, and 2.3% from negative foreign currency translation. Drivers of this constant currency organic growth included a 5% increase in average price and product mix, partly offset by a 4.3% volume decline including impacts from both end-markets.
Refinish end-market net sales were flat at $441.5 million in Q3 2019 (increased 2.5% excluding foreign currency) with strong average price and product mix contribution offset partly by lower volume globally, driven by inventory optimization across the global distribution network coupled with continued conversion to waterborne products and possibly some impact from economic slowing. Industrial end-market net sales decreased by 10.4% to $282.2 million (decreased 0.9% excluding foreign currency and M&A-related impacts), including volume declines offset in large part by positive average price improvement globally. We believe that Industrial volume pressure continues to reflect weakness in global macroeconomic demand which persisted throughout the period.
The Performance Coatings segment generated an Adjusted EBIT of $124.9 million in the third quarter, a 20% year-over-year increase.
Positive price and product mix and lower overall operating expenses were partially offset by volume declines, moderate variable cost inflation and negative foreign exchange impacts. Third-quarter segment Adjusted EBIT margin of 17.3% improved 350 basis points from 13.8% in the prior year as price and product mix and productivity benefits more than offset moderating inflationary headwinds.
Transportation Coatings net sales were $383.3 million in Q3 2019, a decrease of 1.7% year-over-year, including a 1.7% negative currency impact. Constant currency net sales were flat in the period, driven by a 1.5% decrease in volume, offset by 1.5% in higher average price and product mix.
Light Vehicle net sales decreased 2.6% to $295.7 million year-over-year (decreased 0.8% excluding foreign currency), driven by lower global automotive production including customer strike impacts in North America for the last two weeks of September and foreign exchange impacts, offset by 2.8% in improved average price and product mix. Commercial Vehicle net sales increased 1.7% to $87.6 million from Q3 2018 (increased 2.9% excluding foreign currency), including stronger volumes in the company's core regions offset by weaker performance in Asia Pacific. Average price and product mix was a modest headwind this quarter.
Transportation Coatings generated Adjusted EBIT of $37.2 million in Q3 2019, an increase of 45.3% versus Q3 2018, driven by strong price and mix and positive productivity contribution, offset in part by lower volumes. Segment Adjusted EBIT margin of 9.7% in Q3 2019 compared with 6.6% in Q3 2018, a notable 310 basis point improvement aided by the tailwinds highlighted above.
Axalta ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $767.2 million. Company debt, net of cash, was $3 billion as of Sept. 30, 2019, which compared with $3.3 billion as of June 30, 2019. Axalta's net debt to trailing 12-month Adjusted EBITDA ratio was 3.2x at quarter end.
Third-quarter operating cash flow totaled $221 million versus $124.5 million in Q3 2018, reflecting working capital improvement and lower one time costs versus the prior year, as well as stronger operating performance. Free cash flow totaled $198.1 million compared to $95.5 million in the prior-year third quarter, including lower capital expenditures totaling $26.7 million versus $34.9 million in the prior year quarter.
"Axalta's third-quarter demonstrated continued strong overall business execution, coupled with good financial and operating discipline in an uneven global demand environment. Despite volume headwinds across most of Axalta's end-markets, our execution strength was visible in both improved segment margins and strong cash flow performance, resulting in a lower net leverage ratio of 3.2x," said Sean Lannon, Axalta's CFO. "We have provided updated guidance for 2019, and anticipate continued overall volume pressure offset by productivity and reduced inflation headwinds to reaching our previously stated Adjusted EBIT range. Since July, forecasts of Light Vehicle production have continued to decrease, while macro headwinds in the global industrial economy continue to weigh on our Performance Coatings segment. Also, currency headwinds accelerated in the quarter to add incremental pressure. These issues have been countered by Axalta Way productivity savings, benefit from announced pricing actions, and expected stable operating execution."