3M (MMM) issued strong first-quarter results Tuesday that revealed expansion in almost every business segment. The company’s performance was one of the better ones we’ve seen from industrial firms so far this quarter. We also liked GE’s (GE) report here and Honeywell’s (HON) report here and were quite pleased with the recently upwardly-revised outlooks from Parker-Hannifin (PH) and Illinois Toolwork (ITW). 3M’s management followed the lead of its industrial peers and also raised the lower end of its full-year 2012 earnings-per-share outlook range. Our fair value estimate of the company remains unchanged, however.
On a reported basis, net revenue advanced 2.4% thanks to an 8.6% jump in its Industrial and Transportation segment, a 5.5% improvement in its Safety, Security, and Protection Services division, and modest increases in its Consumer/Office and Health Care segments. Importantly, strength in the company’s industrial division was driven mainly by double-digit increases in aerospace and automotive OEM (original equipment makers), further supporting our aerospace and automotive positions in the portfolio of our Best Ideas Newsletter. As expected, however, revenue in 3M’s Electro/Communications and Display/Graphics segment fell due to the firm’s dwindling competitive position within the consumer electronics space (specifically with LCD TV film). All in, the firm’s first-quarter net income jumped 4% on a year-over-year basis, with earnings per share coming in at $1.59, up almost 7% from the same period a year ago (consensus was at $1.48 per share).
Looking ahead, 3M expects organic sales volume growth of 2% to 5% during the year, and operating margins to be between 21% to 22.5% (about in line with the 21.8% it achieved in the most recently reported first quarter). The company full-year 2012 earnings-per-share guidance range is now $6.35 to $6.50 (was $6.25 to $6.50).