We delivered adjusted earnings diluted per share growth; we continued to aggressively manage costs; and we completed the multi-year strategic transformation of our business portfolio by divesting our North American fiber glass business. Today, PPG is entirely focused on innovating paints, coatings and specialty materials to deliver growth and value in our business. We further strengthened our portfolio by completing four acquisitions during the year.
We also have continued our legacy of returning cash to shareholders, with more than $1.2 billion returned in 2017 through share repurchases and dividends. We take great pride in having paid annual dividends for 118 consecutive years, including a 13 percent per-share increase in July 2017 that marked 46 consecutive years of increased per-share payouts.
We maintained excellent financial flexibility with cash and short-term investments of about $1.5 billion at the end of 2017. We have committed to deploy a minimum of $2.4 billion of cash in 2018 on acquisitions and share repurchases as part of our previously communicated target to deploy $3.5 billion in 2017 and 2018 combined.
Looking forward, we are well-positioned to benefit from continued global economic growth because of our geographic reach; robust growth strategy; excellent product portfolio, innovation and advanced customer technologies; transformational leadership; and enduring commitments to sustainability, ethics and community engagement.