3M recently reported third quarter 2011 sales of $7.5 billion, a 9.6% year-on-year increase. Of the 2011 third quarter worldwide sales growth, 3.7% came from acquisitions, 3.1% from foreign exchange impacts, 1.9% from organic volume growth and 0.9% from higher year-on-year selling prices. Organic volume growth was below recent trend levels, reflecting weakness across the electronics market and generally slowing economic growth in the developed world. 3M also noted that a number of its customers reduced inventories during the quarter in anticipation of slowing demand.

Excluding the positive impact of currency, five of the company’s six business segments expanded sales in the quarter, with Industrial and Transportation up 15.1%; Safety, Security and Protection Services up 14.1%; Health Care up 10.9%; Consumer and Office up 4.6%; and Electro and Communications up 1%.

“The business environment remains challenging, as the economic softening that we experienced late in the second quarter continued into the third,” said George W. Buckley, chairman, president and CEO. “While growth rates were good across much of our portfolio, LCD TV remained weak and momentum slowed in other parts of electronics following several quarters of very good growth. In addition, ongoing policy uncertainty and austerity are affecting growth in Western Europe, which reduced sales in the quarter. As is typical, we are seeing the impact of these changes earlier than most as our customers decrease production in order to lower their inventories. Conversely, we should benefit more quickly when those markets recover.”

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