3M's (NYSE:MMM) growth engine was kick-started in early 2014 despite currency headwinds that have hit companies across the board. Overall, revenue was up 2.6% to $7.8 billion and net income rose 6.9% to $1.2 billion, or $1.79 per share, according to results reported this morning.

The impressive figure was organic local currency growth of 4.6%, which shows a solid return on the company's R&D. The reason sales weren't up just as much was a 2% foreign exchange impact on the top line.  

Sales in the health care unit rose nearly 5% and were also higher for the industrial, safety and graphics, and electronics and energy divisions. Sales dipped in the consumer business, which ranges from stationery and office supplies to home care products.

Income investors will also be happy to see $2.3 billion in cash returned to shareholders through buybacks ($1.7 billion) and dividends ($566 million), with the quarterly dividend increased 35% to $0.855 per share. At today's share price that's a 2.5% dividend yield and this was the 56th straight year 3M has increased its dividend.

Shares are down slightly in today's trading, in part because analysts were expecting one penny higher earnings in the quarter. That's a small miss of expectations and long-term investors should be more encouraged by higher organic growth and an increased dividend than one quarter's earnings miss. Those factors make this a strong quarter for 3M.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

 

Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of 3M. The Motley Fool recommends 3M. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.