After a bumpy 2016, 3M Co.'s shares have steadily climbed this year to hit historic highs this week.
There is talk on Wall Street of a stock split. Investors have lauded the company's big acquisitions like the $2 billion deal for Scott Safety announced in March. The company's forecasts have been steadier than its peers.
Then there's the overall swell in the stock market this year, which likely gave 3M an extra boost. The Dow Jones industrial average has grown 19 percent this year, while the S&P 500 index is up 16 percent.
The company declined to comment after its stock closed Thursday at $211.29, up $1.28 and hitting a new high as it has several times this week.
The stock is up 21 percent year-to-date and up 175 percent in the past five years.
Analysts pointed to the $2.5 billion purchase of Capital Safety in 2015, as well as the Scott Safety deal. They also like that 3M sells noncore divisions such as last month's sale of its French license plate business and this month's news that 3M is selling its electronic prisoner monitoring business.
These analysts also liked the behemoth's attention to high margins and recent updates to supply chains, computer systems and factory consolidations. Such efforts are expected to save $500 million to $700 million in operational costs by 2020.
"All these factors probably raised investor confidence and drove the company's shares to a fresh 52-week high," said Zacks Equity Research in a research note to investors this week.
Zacks recommended buying the stock, saying its analysts believe that 3M "has the potential for further price appreciation with long-term earnings growth expectation of 9.7 percent. … With a diligent execution of operational plans, 3M's shares have performed relatively better than the Zacks categorized Diversified Operations industry."
3M's average year-to-date return was 17.1 compared with the Diversified group's 3.1 percent gain.
Yet some are proceeding with caution. Jim Corridore with CFRA Research increased his target price for 3M stock, but maintained his "hold" recommendation. In a research note to investors, he said, "We are more positive about revenue growth but see the shares as trading near fair value."
Investment message board contributors have debated this week whether the stock is close to peak value or whether it is ripe for a stock split.
Motley Fool analysts contend that stock is ripe for splitting. The last time 3M split its stock was in 2003.
At the time, 3M shares traded around $142 each. 3M also issued stock splits in 1994, 1987 and 1972.