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Brooke Sutherland

Not Even Face Masks Can Shield Manufacturers

3M and Honeywell sell protective gear but are still likely to get thumped along with the rest of industrial companies by the global health crisis.

3M’s face masks may not be able to offset the loss of business elsewhere.

3M’s face masks may not be able to offset the loss of business elsewhere.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

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Industrial companies have to be feeling like they’re stuck in a Charlie Brown cartoon these days. Every time things start to look up, some nasty surprise swoops in and takes away their football. First, the trade war kneecapped a recovery off the oil-price downturn in 2015 and 2016 that was just starting to pick up steam. Now, the coronavirus threatens to derail a hoped-for rebound from the trade doldrums.