Skip to main content

3M products on sale at an Orchard Supply Hardware store in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2017.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

U.S. industrial conglomerate 3M Co missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Tuesday, hit by a plunge in demand across its business units due to the coronavirus crisis, sending its shares down about 5.3 per cent.

3M is the world’s biggest producer of N95 respirator masks and has seen sales surge as governments fought over supplies of protective equipment for healthcare and other essential workers.

However, demand for the wide range of office and industrial supplies it churns out has declined as global economic activity sank and millions of employees retreated to working from home.

Story continues below advertisement

“3M is not immune to a slowing economy,” said Matt Arnold, industrial analyst at brokerage Edward Jones. “We expect a negative near-term impact on earnings from the shutdowns related to the outbreak.”

The company again declined to provide a financial forecast, citing uncertainty around the pandemic.

Revenue at 3M’s transportation and electronics division, which sells everything from protective films to adhesives to automakers, tumbled 20.9 per cent.

Demand for oral care and aerospace products also declined, with overall second-quarter net sales falling slightly more than expected to $7.2 billion from $8.2 billion.

Reflecting the boom in mask sales, 3M reported strong growth in personal safety, as well as in automotive electronics, and home care and improvement.

It said it was on track to meet a promise to double production of the N95 masks to 2 billion for the year, having sold some 800 million so far.

By region, sales in Asia-Pacific fell 8.5 per cent, while Europe, Middle East and Africa posted declines of 16.4 per cent. Sales in the United States decreased 12.7 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Operating expenses fell 16 per cent to $5.4 billion, as 3M cut $400 million in costs.

On an adjusted basis, the maker of Post-it notes earned $1.78 per share, just short of analysts’ estimate of $1.80.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies