3M profits jump amid heavy demand for face masks

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 26 2021 11:54 PM

3M brand N95 particulate respirators are displayed on a table on July 28, 2020 in San Anselmo, California. Justin Sullivan, Getty Images/AFP

3M, a maker of N95 face masks, reported higher fourth-quarter profits Tuesday on the mixed impact of Covid-19 across its businesses while also projecting sales growth in 2021.

The industrial giant -- which operates in transportation, electronics and consumer businesses in addition to health care -- pointed to continued strength in personal safety, cleaning and home improvement as the coronavirus boosts demand for some products.

But 3M said the pandemic had dented revenues tied to some other areas, including elective health procedures and hospitality.

The company is projecting sales growth of between five and eight percent in 2021.

"In an uncertain economic environent, we stayed focused on innovating for our customers, improving our operational execution and fighting the pandemic from every angle," said Chief Executive Mike Roman.

Earnings were $1.4 billion in the fourth-quarter, up 43.3 percent from the year-ago period. Revenues rose 5.8 percent to $8.6 billion.

For all of 2020, 3M had profits of $5.4 billion, up 17.5 percent from the year-ago level.

3M's products run the gamut of household goods such as Scotch Tape and Post-It notes, as well sealants for the aerospace industry and sensors and protective equipment for the electronics industry.

During the pandemic, 3M has been a key player in supplying personal protective equipment, especially N95 "respirator" masks used by health care workers. The company produced 2 billion of the masks in 2020.

That came after 3M doubled its mask capacity twice during 2020 as it worked with the governments of the United States, Canada, Germany and Singapore to boost capacity. In an earnings presentation Tuesday, 3M said it has now raised production capacity of the masks to 2.5 billion units.

Shares of 3M rose 1.2 percent to $172.50 in pre-market trading.

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