3M (NYSE:MMM) shares ticked up today on first-quarter results that topped the consensus forecast amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The St. Paul, Minn.-based company posted profits of $1.3 billion, or $2.22 per share, on sales of $8.1 billion for the three months ended March 31, 2019, for a 45% bottom-line gain on sales growth of 2.7%.
Adjusted to exclude one-time items, earnings per share were $2.16, 13¢ ahead of Wall Street, where analysts were looking for sales of $7.9 billion.
“In this unprecedented time, I could not be more proud of how our 96,000 people have stepped up to help fight COVID-19, and I thank all 3Mers for their incredible efforts,” 3M chairman & CEO Mike Roman said in a news release. “We are attacking the pandemic from all angles, which includes mobilizing all of our resources and rapidly increasing output of critical supplies to healthcare workers and first responders.”
Roman added that the financial impact of COVID-19 includes large growth in personal safety, namely the N95 respirator masks that are in high demand. Just last week, 3M received a $76 million contract from the U.S. Defense Dept. to produce more masks. Roman also joined a White House economic recovery task force by President Donald Trump.
According to the news release, 3M ramped up its idle respirator lines and doubled global respirator output to 100 million per month, with 35 million per month in the U.S. alone. The company added that it is increasing its capital investment to double its respirator output again.
“At the same time, we experienced weak demand in several end markets that were more severely impacted by actions taken around the world to slow the pandemic,” Roman said. “Looking ahead, 3M is taking action that will help us navigate near-term uncertainty, generate strong cash flow, and lead out of the slowdown by delivering for employees, customers and shareholders.”
3M threw out its 2020 guidance due to the uncertainty of the duration of the impact of COVID-19, but said it will begin reporting monthly sales information starting in May to provide transparency on its ongoing business performance.
MMM shares were up 4.3% at $160.21 per share in early-morning trading today. MassDevice’s MedTech 100 Index — which includes stocks of the world’s largest medical device companies — was up 0.2%.