3M says 4Q profit rose 3.9 percent

Thursday - 1/24/2013, 1:08pm EST

By JOSHUA FREED
AP Business Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Post-it notes and other office products helped lift 3M's fourth-quarter profit, despite a slowdown in other parts of its business.

The Maplewood, Minn.-based company earned $991 million, or $1.41 per share, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier. The results matched expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

3M said profits grew in its consumer and office business, which makes Scotch tape and Post-it notes, as well as in its health care unit. Profits fell in all four of its other divisions, which make things like industrial products and construction materials.

Because the company includes a wide range of industries and sells products all over the globe, its results are a closely-watched economic bellwether.

Its revenue rose 4 percent to $7.39 billion, above expectations of $7.17 billion.

The company also backed last month's profit forecast of $6.70 to $6.95 per share for 2013. Analysts had been expecting $6.86 per share.

Operating profits jumped 10.5 percent to $430 million in its health care unit. Strong sales growth for food safety, bandages, and mouth care lifted the results.

Profits jumped 28 percent to $230 million in its consumer and office business. Growth was led by retail health products, craft supplies and stationery and office supplies.

But profits fell slightly in its biggest unit, industrial and transportation. Profits were down 5 percent in its safety, security, and protection services business, 3 percent in display and graphics, and 7 percent in its electro and communications unit.

Net income for 2012 rose 3.8 percent to $4.44 billion, or $6.32 per share. Revenue rose 1 percent to $29.9 billion for the year.

"Our people executed well in the face of challenging macroeconomic conditions and we have built good momentum to innovate and move forward in 2013," said Inge G. Thulin, 3M chairman, president and CEO.

3M's stock price edged down 5 cents to $99.44 in afternoon trading.


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