Despite the worst week in Wall Street since 2003, diversified industrial and technology giant 3M
One quarter is a short time frame on which to judge a company, but 3M's second-quarter earnings speak to why it is able to post such visible results. CEO George W. Buckley boasted that "the strength of 3M's portfolio was evident in the second quarter as our growth spanned the entire company, with particularly outstanding results from our Safety, Security and Protection Services and Health Care businesses."
International exposure also helped, and 3M has plenty of it, with more than 60% of sales outside the United States. Faster growth overseas, especially in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Canada, helped boost sluggish top-line trends at home and, surprisingly, in the Asia Pacific region.
The end result was an 8% sales increase, 8.7% improvement in reported earnings, and 17% bottom-line improvement when stripping out a number of one-time items. Top-line trends would have also been higher if 3M hadn't recently sold its branded health-care business.
Better yet, management upped its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $5.40 to $5.60. This helped lay to rest concern that 3M was becoming an inconsistent performer, beating expectations one quarter to underperform the next.
Overall, it was another strong quarter, one in a long history of solid sales growth and cash flow generation. And interestingly, 3M is known for its innovation, placing it firmly among new-economy firms such as Google and Amazon, as well as consumer-oriented players like PepsiCo
Given its track record, it's hard to argue against 3M, and judging by a recently cranky Mr. Market, more investors may be heading into 3M's stable arms.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.