3M, which makes everything from Post-It Notes to insect repellent, said Thursday strong sales of health care products in flu-wary Asia helped lift earnings beyond analyst expectations in the third quarter.
As a result, the St. Paul, Minn.-based conglomerate and Dow Jones component raised its full-year outlook for the second time in as many quarters. Its shares hit a new 52-week high.
But until demand improves the company will keep capital expenditures generally flat and maintain a hold on share buybacks, CEO George W. Buckley said in a conference call.
Nevertheless, Buckley said he expects selective hiring and increased spending on research and development as the company strives to boost revenue.
For the three months ended in September net income slid to $957 million, or $1.35 per share, from $991 million, or $1.41 per share, in the year-earlier period.
Excluding one-time items, 3M earned $1.37 per share, well above the $1.17 most analysts were expecting.
Revenue slipped 5.6 percent to $6.19 billion from $6.56 billion but still topped Wall Street's forecast of $5.77 billion.
Free cash flow nearly doubled to $1.6 billion and, according to Barclays analyst Shannon O'Callaghan, the company achieved a record 24.3 percent profit margin.