What happened 

Shares of 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) popped 9.7% in October, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, after the company reported a surprisingly a good third quarter. The industrial conglomerate is seeing significant organic growth for the first time in decades. 

So what 

Third-quarter revenue jumped 6% to $8.2 billion, and net income was up 8.4% to $1.43 billion, or $2.33 per share. But what really shocked investors was 6.6% organic local currency growth, driven by a surge in demand for electronics-related products in Asia. 

Smartphones in a pile on a computer.

3M has a surprisingly large electronics business, supplying films to most of the devices we see everyday. Image source: Getty Images.

3M has spent years trying to figure out how it's going to grow an industrial business that's increasingly dealing with competition from Asia. It found a good path with electronics, driven by a new round of smartphones and the growth in electric vehicles. The move to OLED screens, in particular, will likely be a tailwind for 3M long-term. 

Now what 

3M's shares still aren't cheap at 26 times trailing earnings, but if it can grow by mid-single digits long-term, that could be a fair price. Few companies have exposure to nearly every major industry like 3M does, and if it can remain a critical component maker in emerging electronics, there could be a wave of volume growth ahead. This is the kind of stock I would buy on the dips given the price, but there's no doubt that this is the best earnings report 3M has had in a long time.

Travis Hoium owns shares of 3M. The Motley Fool recommends 3M. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.