3M Co. will stick to its five-year growth targets despite dampened expectations for 2016 and a budding 2017 forecast that appears less than robust.
Company officials’ reiteration of the targets Wednesday at the Goldman Sachs Industrials Conference in Boston — which also drew the likes of General Motors and Caterpillar — comes just one week after 3M narrowed its earnings and sales forecast for full-year 2016.
3M Chief Financial Officer Nick Gangestad told Goldman equity analysts that 3M has suffered this year with pinched industrial, electronics and energy markets. Next year, he predicts that growth will “move sideways.” He expects hefty pension and currency exchange “headwinds” in 2017 that will create “a more challenging environment for earnings per share growth.”
Still when it comes to meeting growth targets by 2020, he is not put off.
“I don’t see anything that takes us off the trajectory of what we have laid out for the five-year plan,” Gangestad said.
While the global economic environment is only expected to grow 0 to 3 percent by 2020, 3M still expects its average organic sales will rise 2 percent to 5 percent per year between 2016 and 2020, he said. “We also believe we can deliver between 8 and 11 percent earnings-per-share growth” by consolidating factories and customer services, cutting costs and adding supply chain and factory efficiencies.
Gangestad said $500 million to $700 million in operating-income benefits will come from the efficiencies.
3M’s upbeat outlook comes at a time when 3M and a host of other manufacturers — including Honeywell, Polaris Industries and Pentair, cut their profit forecasts for full-year 2016.
Gangestad acknowledged Wednesday that “there are a couple of businesses where we have seen organic growth not up to what we originally expected in 2016. That is our industrial business and our electronics and energy business. Both of those we expect to have higher growth [in the future] than what we have been experiencing in 2016.”
3M will work with selling prices, raw material costs, and efficiency gains to help boost results.
Each of 3M’s five businesses is expected to contribute to its optimistic five-year plan.
3M’s largest division, Industrial, should grow local currency sales by an average 2 percent to 4 percent per year through 2020. 3M’s second largest business, Safety and Graphics, expects a sales rise of 2 percent to 5 percent.
Health care, 3M’s third largest business, should see sales jump 4 percent to 6 percent each year, the company said.
That is despite a recent slowing when third-quarter health care sales only rose 1 percent to $1.4 billion. Last year, they grew 4 percent.
Traditionally, “health care has been such a great business for [3M]” said Goldman Sachs equity analyst Joe Ritchie. But the third “quarter is the slowest growth we have seen since 2009.”