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3M's Getting It Done Worldwide

A small but impressive lineup of big U.S. based companies has reported solid results this earnings season. They may not be shooting the lights out at home, but with help from afar, their overall performance is solid. The latest member of this increasingly formidable group: 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) .

For the most recent quarter, the company posted net income of $851 million, or $1.17 per share. Those results compare to $1.18 billion, or $1.57 per share last year. But if you back out special items, 3M earned $1.19 per share, a 14% improvement over the comparable per-share 2006 figure of $1.04.

As most Fools know, Minnesota-based 3M makes everything from Post-It notes to electronics. In the quarter just past, all six of its operating units improved their sales by amounts ranging from more than 22% for the health-care segment to a single percent in the display and graphics area.

Though geography once bored me to tears, I find the subject more fascinating these days, particularly when Patrick Campbell, 3M's CFO, discussed the company's international growth. On the call, he said: "...We drove broad-based growth, with double-digit dollar sales growth in Europe, Latin America, and Canada, excluding divestitures. Even after excluding the positive currency impacts, local currency growth was positive in every major region of the world."

So 3M joins such other big and diverse U.S.-based international players such as Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , Honeywell (NYSE: HON  ) , and General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) in growing and expanding nearly worldwide.

We have an interesting pair of situations here. On one hand, we've identified a group of companies with sufficient international coverage to reward us with growing earnings. On the other, a distinct subset of that group is still able to generate increasing earnings both at home and abroad. It's clear that 3M is a member in good standing of both camps.

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