3M Co. Boots Dividend, Hikes Outlook
Diversified technology provider 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM – $158.80) said its per-share earnings could grow by as much as 12% next year as the company’s appetite for acquisitions helps drive growth. The St. Paul, Minn.-based company, which sells everything from healthcare products to Scotch tape, also boosted its dividend for its next quarter by 20%. The new annual rate will increase from $3.44 per share to $4.10, bringing the yield to 2.6%. Ahead of an investor meeting, 3M also said it expects to post $8 to $8.30 in per-share earnings next year, compared with the $7.40 to $7.50 a share in earnings the company is expecting to post this year and vs. analysts’ estimates of $8.20. Absent foreign currency effects, 3M has forecast 4% to 5% organic sales growth for 2015 and longer-term it sees earnings growth of 9%-11% per year. The outlook came a day after 3M agreed to sell its static control business to electronics-production company Desco Industries Inc. It is easy to make a case for these shares as the company gets high marks for financial stability, earnings growth and dividend increases. Long-term appreciation possibilities for MMM are decent, especially when viewed on a risk-adjusted basis.