3M Boosts 1Q Dividend, Authorizes $7B Buyback Plan

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (AP) - 3M Co. boosted its first-quarter dividend by 5 percent and announced plans to repurchase up to $7 billion worth of its common shares.

The diversified technology manufacturer said Tuesday that its board of directors authorized a dividend of 55 cents, up from 52.5 cents last quarter. The cash will be paid on March 12 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 18, 3M said.

3M said the new share repurchase plan replaces an earlier buyback plan, under which $2.2 billion remained as of November.

3M has returned $15 billion to shareholders over the past five years through dividends and share repurchases, the company said. It said it has paid dividends without interruption for more than 94 years.

Announcing its fourth-quarter results last month, the Maplewood, Minn.-based company said that it doesn't expect a big improvement in the U.S. market until more people get back to work.

"There's still a lot of smoke without fire," CEO George Buckley said about economic conditions in the U.S. during a conference call following the earnings release.

3M's net income fell slightly in the last three months of 2010. The company earned $928 million, or $1.28 per share, compared with $935 million, or $1.35 per share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 10 percent to $6.71 billion. 3M saw strong growth in sales of products used in electronics, cars and planes. Business improved in all six of the company's segments. 3M makes everything from Post-Its and Scotch Tape to respirators and computer arms.

The company raised its profit forecast for 2011 as it expects investments in new products and acquisitions to pay off.

3M shares rose $1.38 to $90.80 in after-hours trading after gaining 68 cents in regular trading Tuesday. Over the past year, the stock has traded between $67.98 and $91.49.
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