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Citigroup Upgrades 3M to 'Buy'

Citigroup upgraded 3M (MMM) to buy from hold.

Analyst Jeffrey Sprague says the the maker of Scotch brand tape and touch computer screens now sees first-quarter and 2004 results above the prior estimates. This follows a 10% drop in the stock year-to-date, and about 1100 basis points of underperformance vs. the S&P 500.

Sprague thinks 3M has lagged as investors have looked for more cyclical leverage, but thinks this rotation has mostly played out. Also, he thinks as as large-cap stable growth company, 3M will support stronger relative price performance as the economic cycle matures and purely cyclical companies fall from favor.

Sprague raised the $3.50 2004 earnings per share estimate to $3.60, and upped the $3.85 2005 estimate to $4.00 to reflect stronger sales volumes.

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