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3M raises forecast for 2010 after strong 4Q

3M raises forecast for 2010 after strong 4Q

3M Co. said Thursday it closed 2009 with a strong 74 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit and raised its expectations for the new year.
3M is considered a window into overall U.S. economic health, and the results could be seen as an encouraging sign for a U.S. recovery. Strength in businesses that provide products to car companies and computer and television makers drove the results.
The company, based in Maplewood, Minnesota, also makes common household name products like Post-its and Scotch tape. 3M earned $935 million, or $1.30 per share in the last three months of 2008, compared with $536 million, or 77 cents per share a year earlier. Excluding some one-time in the year-ago period, fourth-quarter earnings per share rose 34 percent.
Revenue increased 11 percent to $6.12 billion.
3M increased its 2010 earnings expectations to $4.90 to $5.10 per share from $4.85 to $5 per share previously. Shares rose 2 percent in premarket trading to $83.98.
3M reported improved revenue in all of its six business segments. Revenue in the company's biggest segment, industrial and transportation, rose 10 percent. The results were driven by growth in its automotive products and its renewable energy business.
The division makes more than 1,000 products for cars, including abrasives and paint finishings. December was one of the best months of 2009 for auto sales in the U.S. and analysts predict automakers could sell as many as 2 million more cars and trucks in 2010.
Among its renewable energy products, 3M makes films for solar panels and windows as well as sealants and tapes for wind turbines. Renewable energy companies have been expanding rapidly as the industry benefits from billions of dollars in government stimulus money. President Barack Obama has advocated more investment in renewable energy as a way to create jobs.
Strong sales in other segments were led by products including H1N1-related respirators, food safety solutions and TV and computer display products. Sales of international office supplies were a weak point.
Thomson Reuters says analysts were expecting a profit of $1.21 per share on revenue of $5.88 billion.
For all of 2009, 3M's profit fell to $3.19 billion, or $4.52 per share, from $3.46 billion, or $4.89 per share in 2008.