3M Has It All

04/15/2014 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Genia Turanova

Editor, Leeb Income Performance

Our newest recommendation is a company that has it all; this firm has more than 30 business units and 46 technology platforms, operating in over 70 countries, explains Genia Turanova, editor of Leeb Income Performance.

3M Co. (MMM), a member of the Dow Industrials, is a large-cap industrial company well known—indeed, quite famous—for its innovation gene.

It’s a legitimate income stock too, as the company has recorded 51 years in the S&P 500 dividend aristocrats list. MMM increased its quarterly dividend twice in 2013. This shows both financial strength and management confidence.

Overall, 3M has, for 55 years, rewarded investors with consecutive dividend increases, and has paid dividends for 97 years without interruption. Even throughout the Depression, 3M paid its shareholders a quarterly dividend.

3M is, fundamentally, a company driven by science—and is also a leader in several markets, from healthcare and highway safety to office products, and abrasives, and adhesives.

Additional upside could well come from recovery in emerging markets, given 3M’s strong exposure there (35% of revenue).

On the other hand, the stock is safe. The company maintains a rock-solid balance sheet, its domestic growth (about a third of total revenues) remains in place, and its operating margins remain strong, exceeding 20%.

The company also obtains growth leverage from its consistently high R&D spending; 3M plans to spend roughly 6% of sales in this arena by 2017. Innovation remains robust at 3M with 33% of sales derived from new products in 2012.

The company’s 2014 outlook is also encouraging: management guided for EPS to grow 10% compared to last year. It expects organic growth in the range of 3 to 6%, due mostly to volume growth, with modest pricing increases.

3M will also look for acquisitions: analysts expect $5 billion to $10 billion to be spent there. Trading at 16 times expected earnings, it is a buy at current levels.

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