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Medical and Household Goods Sales Propel 3M's Third Quarter

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Sales of respirators used in the battle against Covid-19 combined with strong sales go household products like stickie notes help boost 3M's third-quarter earnings and sales.

The St. Paul, Mind.-based maker of respirators and other front-line equipment being used in the fight against Covid-19 posted net income of $1.41 billion, or $2.43 a share, vs. $1.59 billion, or $2.75 a share a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting per-share earnings of $2.26 a share.

Sales rose 4.5% from last year to $8.35 billion vs. $7.99 billion a year ago, also above analysts' forecasts of $8.3 billion. Health care sales surged 25.5% during the quarter, 3M said, offsetting a 7.1% decline in transportation and electronics. Safety and industrial sales rose 6.9% while consumer sales were 5.6% higher.


On a geographic basis, total sales grew 7.7% percent year-on-year in the Americas, 4.4% in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), but fell 0.6% in Asia Pacific. 

Operating cash flow was $2.5 billion, Merck said, with adjusted free cash flow of $2.2 billion. The company said it paid out $847 million in cash dividends to shareholders during the third quarter and brought its total debt level by $1.2 billion, or 6%.

3M did not provide full-year guidance, though did estimate total sales for October to be "flat to up low-single digits year-on-year," including the expected impact of one fewer business day in October 2020 versus October 2019.

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