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3M Can Weather Tough Times and Innovate: CEO

U.S. manufacturer 3M is well positioned to deal with a recession in Europe and weak U.S. economic growth and still expects to see sales sales next year 2-6 percent higher than 2011 sales, its chief executive told CNBC on Tuesday.

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“Overall it’s a situation that we can deal with,” Sir George Buckley, Chairman and CEO of 3M said.

He expects to see “moderately decent growth” in the Unites States, while Europe will “certainly” see slow growth, “maybe even a mild recession”.

“I think the emerging markets will all be positive, perhaps some less possible than they once were,” Buckley said.

The maker of products including Post-it notes and scotch tape last week reaffirmed its 2011 earnings guidance, sending its shares higher.

“We’ve seen some growth retardation from inventory draw-downs. I think people have been very concerned about the economy, the end markets,“ Buckley said, adding: “It’s probably right to be cautious given what we see out there.”

According to Buckley, “we may see some additional slowness as people draw down inventories in preparation for what they think is going to happen. Not necessarily for what is actually going to happen.“

The CEO insisted the company would continue to spend on innovation, even in tough economic times.

“We’ve always taken the view that R&D, innovation is our bread and butter,” he said.

“In terms of overall long-term growth for us…we still think the right thing to do is to continue to invest in the long-term future. I’m very much a believer that if you don’t, it won’t be there when you want it,” Buckley said.

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