Citing a slowing global economy and weakening industrial sector, 3M Co. lowered its 2015 outlook Tuesday and now expects full-year organic growth of 1 percent.
That's down from the prior guidance of 1.5 to 2 percent growth. Earnings per share for all of 2015 are now expected to be $7.55, compared with the prior estimate of $7.60 to $7.65, company officials told analysts during a conference call Tuesday morning.
Nick Gangestad, 3M's chief financial officer, said the lowered forecast could not be helped.
"We're seeing particular weakness in industrial-related businesses in the United States, and we're also seeing weaker than expected demand in consumer electronics," he said.
Shareholders of the maker of Scotch tape, cellphone optical films and more, were not pleased and stomped 3M's stock down 6 percent, or $9.50 per share, to close Tuesday at $148.13.
Several investment firms, including S&P Capital IQ, said they understood the market reaction, but held steady on their 3M stock forecasts, given that the Maplewood-based conglomerate is still performing above peer companies.
The subdued outlook for this year — final results will be announced on Jan. 26 — follows 3M and other multinational giants becoming hamstrung by the high U.S. dollar, which is crimping exports and curtailing profits here at home once overseas sales and profits are converted to U.S. dollars. Economic slowdowns in China and parts of Europe and Brazil also are weighing on results.
3M said it ramped up financial hedging instruments designed to soften the impact of currency exchanges.
3M CEO Inge Thulin and Gangestad also discussed 3M's lowered outlook for this year and their 2016 outlook during a conference call with investors and analysts Tuesday morning. They reviewed 3M's research and development spending, capital deployment and new ERP computer system.
They also noted fresh efficiency efforts around the globe that are expected to slash $500 million to $700 million in annual operating costs by 2020.
Thulin and Gangestad said 3M expects 2016 earnings to grow 7 to 12 percent to $8.10 to $8.45 per share. Organic sales are expected to grow 1 to 3 percent next year. For the first nine months of 2015, 3M's sales fell 4.7 percent while profits per share rose 4.4 percent.
3M plans to again invest $1.8 billion annually in R&D projects in both 2015 and 2016. The amount is the same invested in 2014, but that year R&D equaled 5.6 percent of sales. This year and next year, R&D spending will tick up to 5.8 percent of sales, officials said.
Capital expenditures on manufacturing plants and equipment will be $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion in 2015 and between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion next year. 3M spent $1.5 billion building factories and equipment improvements in 2014.
This year, 3M opened "customer technical centers" in Australia, western China, Italy and Turkey, and announced that it is building an urban solutions lab in Singapore. 3M's new $150 million R&D lab in Maplewood will officially open early next year.
"We remain committed to executing our playbook, controlling the controllable, and making investments for long-term success," said Thulin in a statement. "We are building our company for efficient growth in 2016 and beyond."
Thulin told analysts that 3M is still considering strategic alternatives for its profitable health-information systems business, which helps hospitals and clinics maintain patient data electronically. The company has yet to decide if it will spin off, sell or keep the unit.