By Lewis Krauskopf
Jan 30 Diversified manufacturer 3M Co
reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales on Thursday, hurt
by declines in its consumer business and slowing growth in Latin
Revenue rose 2.5 percent to $7.57 billion in the fourth
quarter, below the analysts' average estimate of $7.71 billion.
Analysts expressed disappointment in the region that
includes Latin America and Canada, where sales growth slowed
significantly, and in the decline in revenue in the consumer
business, which includes stationery and office supplies.
Shares of 3M fell 1.9 percent to $127.77 in morning trading.
"Maybe this is a read-through that we're still in a
slow-growth environment," said Morningstar analyst Adam Fleck,
noting that 3M's revenue increase had slowed from 5.6 percent in
the third quarter.
The company, whose products include Post-it notes and film
for flat-panel televisions, backed its 2014 financial targets,
including revenue growth of 3 percent to 6 percent.
3M said fourth-quarter net income rose to $1.1 billion, or
$1.62 per share, from $991 million, or $1.41 per share, a year
The results were in line with the analysts' average
estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
However, Sanford Bernstein analyst Steven Winoker said
earnings had benefited from a lower-than-expected tax rate, and
he described the results as an "operational miss."
Sales in Latin America and Canada increased 2.2 percent
after rising 10.5 percent in the third quarter and 8.5 percent
in the second quarter. On a conference call, executives said
weak sales in Venezuela had brought down results in the region.
Last month, 3M said it would spend $5 billion to $10 billion
on acquisitions through 2017, including possible
"multibillion-dollar" transactions. It also expects to pay $17
billion to $22 billion for share repurchases in that time.