3M Co.’s stock jumped 5 percent Tuesday after the company beat analysts’ expectations for the fourth quarter, despite being hit by the effects of a strong dollar and weakening global industrial sector.
3M reported sales declines across all five businesses for the October-to-December quarter. Excluding foreign currency translations, however, 3M’s health care and consumer units did grow, showing respective 5 and 3 percent upticks, mainly within the United States.
CEO Inge Thulin said during a call with investors that 3M completed its restructuring plans during a fourth quarter that battled a “challenging external environment.”
“Across our enterprise, we controlled the controllable, while investing in our business and returning cash to our shareholder,” he said.
For the quarter, the maker of Post-it notes, respirators and cellphone screen-brightening films said it earned $1.04 billion, or $1.66 a share, when including restructuring costs. Analysts, on average, expected $1.63 a share. Revenue fell 5.4 percent to $7.3 billion during the quarter. Analysts had expected sales of $7.2 billion.
For the year, 3M’s revenue fell nearly 5 percent to $30.3 billion, while profits slid 2.5 percent to $4.83 billion, or $7.58 a share. Even so, the annual results beat analysts’ expectations.
3M officials forecast a 7 to 10 percent bump in 2016 earnings to $8.10 to $8.45 per share. They expect organic sales to rise 1 to 3 percent, provided pesky foreign exchange rates are excluded. With the high U.S. dollar, exchange rates are expected to clip 2016 sales by 1 to 3 percent
Investors welcomed Tuesday’s news.
3M’s stock rose $7.21, or 5.2 percent, to close at $144.78 per share. The stock has been trading recently about 20 percent below its 52-week high of $170.50.
In a note to investors Tuesday, S&P Capital IQ analyst Jim Corridore said he trimmed his stock price target for 3M, but noted that the company beat his expectations for the quarter.
“While organic growth remains tepid, 3M is doing a good job managing costs and generating cash, and has an aggressive share repurchase plan and a dividend yield of 2.9 percent,” he wrote.
For the quarter, 3M officials said, the high value of the U.S. dollar and resulting negative currency translations clipped sales by 5.8 percent. But even without currency exchanges, sales still fell 1.1 percent.
As 3M warned, the fourth-quarter bottom line was dented by a large restructuring charge affiliated with the elimination of 1,500 jobs worldwide. The company reported a charge of $114 million, or 14 cents a share, for the quarter, which was $14 million higher than what it forecast in October. Excluding restructuring costs, 3M earned $1.80 a share.
Thulin told analysts that the head count reductions and other restructuring moves are expected to save $130 million in 2016. Chief Financial Officer Nick Gangestad said 3M did not anticipate additional layoffs beyond the previously announced 1,500 positions.
Barclays analyst Scott Davis said 3M was “pretty aggressive in restructuring in [the] fourth quarter.”
3M officials said the restructuring largely focused on “structural overhead” costs, mostly in the United States and in slower growing markets in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
3M signaled in October and December that it was facing fresh headwinds due to a slowing global economy and problems surrounding a dollar so high that it either curtails profits or export orders.
Last month, 3M lowered its outlook for full year 2015, saying earnings would be about $7.55 a share, down from the previous forecast of $7.60 to $7.65. On Tuesday, the company said it earned $7.58 a share for the year.
Of 3M’s five businesses, electronics and energy performed the worst. Electronics-related sales fell 8 percent amid declining demand for electronics materials solutions and display materials. 3M’s energy-related sales fell 6 percent because of declines in renewable energy, telecommunications and electrical markets, officials said. That weakness could continue through the first quarter of this year, they said.
Companywide, 3M enjoyed a 1.5 percent sales boost from acquisitions, which included the recently purchased Capital Safety worker protective wear firm, Polypore ultrafiltration business and Ivera Medical Corp.
3M also completed the sale of its global library systems business and its French license plate fabrication business during the quarter.
In the coming year, Thulin said, 3M’s main focus is increasing organic sales, but he added that the company was “willing and open to do things like we did in 2015” with regard to making acquisitions.
“We did a couple of good acquisitions in 2015 in order to build out our platforms from a technology perspective, but also to be more relevant in the market,” he said. The ultimate deciding factor in whether to pursue an acquisition opportunity, though, might be the price.