3M Posts Small Profit Increase In 4Q

NEW YORK (AP) — 3M Co. said Thursday its profit inched 3 percent higher in the fourth-quarter as growth in products for the home, office and automobiles offset declines in its high-tech products.

The maker of everything from Scotch Tape to computer arms also maintained its profit forecast as it expects slower global economic growth for the first half of 2012. The company has continuously expressed caution about economic conditions, citing high commodity and fuel prices as well as the beaten-down housing market.

The Maplewood, Minn., company said Thursday it earned $954 million, or $1.35 per share, in the final three months of 2011, compared with $928 million, or $1.28 per share, a year ago.

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Revenue rose 6 percent to $7.09 billion.

Wall Street was banking on even smaller earnings growth. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a profit of $1.31 per share. Revenue matched analysts’ forecast. Shares rose 1 percent in premarket trading.

3M said sales were strongest at its industrial and transportation unit, rising 14 percent. Sales in its biggest segment were driven by abrasives and a number of other products for planes and cars.

Sales rose 6 percent at the consumer and office unit, which makes products most familiar to consumers, like Post-Its and Scotch Tape.

Sales fell again at 3M’s its electronics and communications and display and graphics segments, mostly the result of lower sales of film for LCD TVs.

For all of 2011, 3M earned $4.28 billion, or $5.96 per share, compared with 2010 results of $4.09 billion, or $5.63 per share.

This year, it expects earnings per share between $6.25 and $6.50. Analysts currently predict a profit of $6.33 per share.


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