3M Beats Wall Street Views, Boosts Outlook with Wires

Diversified manufacturer 3M posted higher quarterly earnings Thursday and raised its full-year outlook, citing strong demand for all its products, especially the films it makes to brighten the screens on electronic products.

The Dow component said it earned $1.30 a share in its fourth quarter, excluding one-time items, well-above analysts' estimates of $1.21 a share and up from 97 cents a share a year earlier.

Sales reached $6.1 billion, above expectations of $5.88 billion, and up from $5.51 billion a year ago.

Additionally, 3M increased its 2010 earnings expectations to a range of between $4.90 to $5.10 a share versus a prior expected range of $4.85 to $5.00. The company expects organic sales volumes to grow 5 to 7 percent and currency effects to add 1 to 2 percent to sales for the year.

"By any measure, 2009 was a highly successful year for 3M and I could not be more proud of the 3M team for their undaunted effort in a challenging year," said George Buckley, 3M CEO, in a prepared statement.

"We delivered tremendous results while continuing to invest significantly in our future with R&D investments of $1.3 billion and capital investments topping $900 million," he said. "And we posted a 21.7 percent operating margin for the year, equal to 2008 levels, which is a tremendous achievement in the midst of the worst recession since early last century."

Despite the results, 3M shares fell along with the stocks of other top industrial names, including Caterpillar, Terex and Deere & Co after weaker-than-expected data on durable goods and jobless claims raised concerns that the economic recovery may be faltering.

"There's growing concern that the U.S. economy is maybe stumbling, and since stock prices have factored in hopes of a more robust rebound, we're seeing weakness in a lot of industrial names," said Morningstar analyst Adam Fleck. "It looks like 3M is getting roped into that sell-off."

3M was recently recognized by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Center for Architecture, Art Design and Urban Studies for outstanding product design.

Five products have received the prestigious 2009 GOOD DESIGN Award: Scotch Easy-Grip Packaging Tape Dispenser, Scotch Scissors, Scotch Pop-Up Tape Dispenser, Scotch Fur Fighter Hair Remover, and Post-it Flag Pens and Highlighters.

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—Wire services contributed to this report.