January 24, 2013 / 1:00 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-3M CEO starts to lay out plans to boost performance

* Fourth-quarter earnings rise, meet analysts' view
    * 3M confirms forecast of 6-10 percent 2013 profit growth
    * To cut 300 jobs as 3M merges security, traffic safety arms
    * Shares little changed

    By Scott Malone
    Jan 24 (Reuters) - 3M Co began to unveil on Thursday some of the
steps Chief Executive Officer Inge Thulin is making to improve profitability at
underperforming units.
    Thulin, who took the top job at the diversified U.S. manufacturer in
February, said last year that he had identified a handful of units that it would
need to fix, sell or close.
    The maker of Post-It notes and films used in television screens is merging
its security and traffic-safety units, a shift that will result in the
elimination about 300 jobs, Thulin told investors on a conference call to
discuss fourth-quarter earnings, which met Wall Street forecasts.
    He said he did not plan to make drastic changes to 3M's broad lineup of
    "These situations are a few when compared to 3M's overall portfolio," Thulin
said, adding that he plans to act quickly to fix businesses that the company
identifies as troubled.
    "They will not stay under strategic review for long," he said. "We will take
    The company, which beat Wall Street's sales targets because of strong demand
for office products and from the electronics sector, said it expected to
increase earnings by 6 percent to 10 percent this year, despite an uneven world
    "There remains a degree of uncertainty as we see some economies growing and
others are slower to recover," Thulin said. "Healthcare is doing well, for
example, while consumer electronics yet has to recover fully."    
    3M said fourth-quarter profit had increased to $991 million, or $1.41 per
share, from $954 million, or $1.35 per share, a year earlier. The results met
the analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
    Revenue rose 4.2 percent to $7.39 billion from $7.09 billion. Wall Street
had looked for $7.18 billion.
    "Solid organic growth in (the fourth quarter) leaves a good jumping-off
point into 2013," said Vertical Research Partners analyst Jeff Sprague.
    Shares of 3M rose 3 cents to $99.52 in morning trading on the New York Stock
    Some of 3M's strongest growth was in China, where sales were up 16 percent,
sharply outpacing a 5.2 percent rise in the United States and an 0.6 percent
decline in Western Europe, where economies "have stabilized but are not yet
growing," Chief Financial Officer David Meline said on the call. 
    At Wednesday's close, 3M shares had risen about 16 percent over the past
year, outpacing the roughly 14 percent rise of the broad Standard & Poor's 500
    Major U.S. manufacturers have largely beaten Wall Street's expectations this
earnings season. On Wednesday, United Technologies Corp and Textron Inc
 both reported earnings that came in a penny ahead of consensus
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