3M Company Earnings Call Insights: Second Quarter Outlook and Capital Expenditure

3M Company (NYSE:MMM) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Second Quarter Outlook

Steven Winoker – Sanford Bernstein: Just so I understand, how are you thinking about the cadence of, I guess, what’s implied 2% to 6% top line growth for the rest of the year. You’ve mentioned a lot of different dynamics going into that, but if you sort of take us through the quarters and how you are thinking about that or just as maybe how you are thinking about that ramping up, that would be helpful?

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David W. Meline – SVP and CFO: So, if you look at how we think the quarters are going to develop, Steve, we think that it’s really looking to us more like a first step, second half story right now. So we think that the second quarter specifically in the Energy and Electronics is going to run in a similar fashion to what we saw in the first quarter, followed by an improvement in that segment in the second half. Then likewise, if you look at the other businesses we are observing that we will expect to see some level of improvement in second half.

Steven Winoker – Sanford Bernstein: Then could you also maybe just go through a little bit more of expectations or what you’re seeing in China in terms of stocking levels and liquidity across the different businesses?

David W. Meline – SVP and CFO: Yeah, so if you look at China. First of all I’ve observed that we saw a 10% organic local currency growth again here in the first quarter. If you take that and separate Electronics and the balance of the business we ran at 8%. So if you think of base business at 8% in China versus it was at 10% in the fourth quarter of last year. So, pretty steady. Then you saw a decline in the Electronics and in this case Energy segment, including renewable that caused the total growth in China to go from 16% to 10%. So we’re seeing part of the Electronics issues that I referred to in Energy are based in China as they have a big renewables business there. So, we saw decline in that area, which we expect will continue into the second quarter whereas in the base businesses, Industrial for example, and Safety and Graphics ran at 10% and 11% respectively, which is very consistent with what we saw as we finished the year last year.

Inge G. Thulin – Chairman, President and CEO: Steve, this is Inge. I think on the gross piece the way I think about it is this is the second quarter now when we have showed growth, and the 2% growth in this quarter based on the IPI growth we feel okay with. Now, that is one of reason, you said 2 to 6, we are saying 2 to 5 in the growth range for the year; so not 2 to 6, 2 to 5. We don’t change that because we are coming off of a growth quarter of 2%. Second quarter, as David said, look very much like the first quarter. Relative to China, it’s good to see we had growth in Q4, we had 10% growth in Q1 coming out of three quarters earlier or basically no growth. Now, we believe still is (fragile) in China when you look upon external data, and in Q2 it could sidetrack based on growth, right. So, we are optimistic, but we still need to see more evidence of growth coming in that market.


Capital Expenditure

Scott Davis – Barclays: Obviously, I think you are going to a lot of questions just on growth and such and 2% is a lot better than we are seeing in other companies, but still in that regard when you think about taking the CapEx numbers the way you have I think it is about 24% increase quarter-over-quarter. What types of – maybe you can give us some examples of what types of growth projects are you working on or what type of end markets are you expecting that type of the growth that would justify really ratcheting up spend in a low growth environment?

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Inge G. Thulin – Chairman, President and CEO: As we said, we are not changing the guidance for this year relative to the CapEx. And as we all know the CapEx investment is based on long-term growth. So, that is why we are saying this is, is something we would continue and of course, there is some markets that are doing better that need more investment and over time some is more of a challenge, and we will like to build out very much close to the marketing international as we have talked about earlier. So, without going into specific segments per se you can think about it as we build out our Health Care business on a global basis. We are doing very well in Health Care. We are growing well now as David referred to a business where we are growing everywhere both from a business unit perspective and division and on a geographical base. We need to build that out as we move ahead. That portfolio is basically 75% in developed economies. So, the developing world is huge upside for us with very attractive margins. So, you will probably see over time additional investment in that area. In many cases, in order to be successful in Health Care, you need to be very local in order to provide that services. The same go for Consumer. Consumer is another business group for us that are performing very well, and our relative penetration in developing world is much, much lower than in the developed, and specifically versus United States. That’s another business over time that we will build out. So, I think you will see that. And then you have to think about one of the strings for 3M is our vertical integration into business model that means that we will utilize a lot of capacity and places around the world when we build this out. So, I would say that think about it as we are not changing it now because we invest for the future and the future, we still believe in the plan we have laid out, so it look very favorable for us.

A Closer Look: 3M Company Earnings Cheat Sheet>>