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3M ( MMM) manufactures a slew of industrial and consumer products that range from Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes to industrial adhesives and computer screen security devices. That wide mix of broad appeal office supplies and higher-ticket niche offerings makes 3M more attractive than its average peer in this market.

So does the company's 2.7% dividend payout; on Tuesday, management hiked the company's dividend by 9.62% to 59 cents per share. That's the 54th consecutive year of payout hikes for the Minnesota-based company.

Innovation has been one of the biggest keys to 3M's success. The firm hasn't just managed to develop some of the most successful consumer products out there, it's also managed to reinvent and modify them, squeezing extra life out of offerings that have ample generic competition creeping in.

Besides creating new products, international growth stands to provide the most upside potential for 3M. Even though international sales have made up the lion's share of 3M's revenues for a while now, less saturated emerging markets still offer room for 3M to stretch its legs both near and long-term.

Despite some recent acquisitions, 3M's balance sheet is in strong shape. The firm has ample liquidity with $4.7 billion in cash and investments, a number that more than offsets 3M's debt load. Income investors looking for consumer exposure could do much worse than 3M.

3M shows up on lists of the 10 Best Dow Dividend Stocks for 2012 and 19 Dividend Opportunity Stocks for 2012.

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