Do the three M's in 3M (NYSE:MMM) stand for Making More Money? It might appear that way after the industrial giant revised its 2004 outlook higher yesterday. The company is now looking to earn between $3.52 and $3.62 a share this year. Back in January, those targets stood at a range of $3.46 to $3.52 per share. Talk about leaving investors a Post-it note with a smiley face.

3M has a way of sticking to you. How can you not like a company that has hiked its quarterly dividend for 46 consecutive years? That kind of consistency simply cannot be ignored. Moreover, the stock has doubled over the past five years -- after nearly doubling in the five years before that.

And the revised profit outlook stacks up well against last year's $3.02 a share -- which was in itself a decent uptick from the previous year's $2.50. While a good chunk of that improvement can be attributed to currency translations -- as the company's presence overseas gives it more bang for the falling buck -- any number of global conglomerates haven't produced as well with the same fiscal tailwind.

Investors pay up for that kind of consistency, and 3M may not appear cheap at 30 times last year's free cash flow. Even with the earnings bumped higher for 2004, the company's forward P/E is still a bit over 20. No, that's not exactly cheap for a mature blue chip. General Electric (NYSE:GE),Home Depot (NYSE:HD), and Merck (NYSE:MRK) all have earnings multiples in the high teens. Why pay more for 3M?

Because it's worth it. You're just not going to find a company that has been growing its dividend distributions every year for nearly half a century in the closeout bin.

Do you like 3M at these levels? Are you concerned that the company's fortunes will reverse dramatically if and when the dollar changes course? All this and more -- in the 3M discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz uses Scotch tape and Post-it notes -- but he does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.