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Tuesday January 21

3M Earnings Up on Lower Costs, Sales

Diversified manufacturer 3M Company's fourth-quarter earnings rose as it cut costs and boosted sales, especially in Asia.

The company, whose products range from Scotch tape and Post-It notes to sandpaper, industrial adhesives and asthma inhalers, also said first-quarter earnings will be slightly better than expected.

3M estimated it will earn $1.38 to $1.43 a share in the first quarter. Analysts' estimates range from $1.34 to $1.41 a share, according to market tracker Thomson First Call.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company also said expects to earn $5.80 to $6.00 a share in 2003. First Call estimates range from $5.60 to $6.10 a share.

3M said it had fourth-quarter net income of $511 million, or $1.29 a share, compared with $381 million, or 96 cents a year earlier.

Results were at the high end of 3M's October estimate that it would earn between $1.25 and $1.30 a share. Analysts' estimates matched that range, according to market tracker Thomson First Call, with an average forecast of $1.28.

Sales increased 7.3 percent to $4.14 billion from $3.86 billion. Unit volumes gained 6.0 percent, with global prices down 0.7 percent. Currency translation boosted sales by 2.0 percent.

Most of the gains came overseas. U.S. sales rose 1.8 percent to $1.84 billion while international sales increased 12.2 percent to $2.3 billion. Sales volumes increased 22 percent in Asia Pacific, with Japan up 15 percent and the rest of the region up 29 percent.

Among 3M's divisions, transportation, graphics and safety turned in the strongest performance, boosting sales by 14.2 percent.

Industrial sales rose 4.6 percent, with consumer and office up 4.5 percent, health care up 3.6 percent and electro and communications up 2.2 percent. Specialty materials sales fell 1.7 percent due to the phase out and reintroduction of the company's popular Scotchgard soil repellent.

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