3M Profit Tops Estimates on Electronics Rebound, Health Care

3M Co. posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on a rebound at its electronics business and demand for health-care products.

Net income rose 5.9 percent to $1.23 billion, or $1.78 a share, from $1.16 billion, or $1.65, a year earlier, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company said today in a statement. The average of 15 estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $1.75.

Sales at 3M’s electronics and energy business rose 2.5 percent, after posting declines in the last two quarters amid what the company called “soft” demand. 3M, led by Chief Executive Officer Inge Thulin, cited growth in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

“It was an excellent quarter for 3M on many fronts and our businesses continue to grow profitably,” Thulin said on a conference call today with analysts.

3M gained less than 1 percent to $123.49 at the close in New York. Earlier today, the shares rose as much as 1.4 percent to $124.96, a record high, according to Jacqueline Berry, a 3M spokeswoman. The shares have gained 33 percent this year.

The electronics and energy unit’s sales increase to $1.45 billion followed declines of 3.2 percent in the second quarter and 3.3 percent in the first quarter.

3M is considered a bellwether for the global economy because it has businesses ranging from consumer goods to health care to auto parts and last year got 65 percent of its revenue outside of the U.S.

Annual Forecast

Organic sales, which strip out impacts from acquisitions and foreign exchange, rose 4.3 percent in Europe, Middle East and Africa and advanced 6.8 in Asia Pacific. Latin America posted with organic sales growth of 11 percent.

3M narrowed its 2013 earnings forecast to $6.65 to $6.75 a share, from a previous range of $6.60 to $6.85. Analysts projected $6.70, the average of 16 estimates. The company also increased the forecast for 2013 share buybacks to $4.5 billion to $5 billion from $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion, previously.

Sales in the quarter rose 5.6 percent to $7.9 billion, beating the average estimate of $7.85 billion. The gain was led by revenue increases of 5.5 percent to $1.33 billion at the health-care unit and 8.6 percent to $2.67 billion at the industrial unit, which was helped by the $860 million acquisition of Ceradyne Inc. in November.

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