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Despite Strong N95 Mask Demand, 3M's Sales Dropped in April

By Howard Smith – Updated May 14, 2020 at 3:48PM

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Rising revenues from its healthcare segment weren't enough to make up for the pandemic-related sales declines elsewhere in the industrial conglomerate

Industrial giant 3M (MMM 1.82%) reported today that its April sales declined by 11% year over year, with strength in its healthcare segment more than offset by weaknesses in its other businesses. An increase of 5% in healthcare sales was driven by demand for COVID-19 related personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 respirators.

The company recently said it has invested $80 million in ramping up production of the N95 masks since it began that acceleration in January. Those investments will enable it to almost double its global production by the end of the year to an annual rate of 2 billion masks. Under Defense Production Act requirements, and with recent contracts awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense, 3M will be producing more than 95 million of those N95 respirators per month in the U.S. alone. 

N95 respirator mask on table in front of healthcare worker

Image source: Getty Images.

3M said its April sales in areas other than healthcare "experienced significant weakness due to factors including social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates." The negatively impacted sectors included automotive, general industrial, office, and oral care. Sales declined 5% in the consumer segment, 11% in safety and industrial, and 20% in transportation and electronics.

The company did say it experienced strong demand in pandemic-related areas, including "personal safety, electronics (semiconductor and data center), general cleaning, food safety and biopharma filtration."

On April 28, the company withdrew its full-year guidance due to uncertainty related to the ongoing pandemic, but said it would provide monthly updates until it is better able to gauge the longer-term outlook. 

Howard Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3M. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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