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Why 3M Is a Bargain After The Sell-Off

As a diversified tech company with worldwide operations, 3M Company (NYSE: MMM) stands to make some headway in the international market, at least according to one key analyst. Argus has a very positive rating for 3M and sees as much as a 30% upside from current prices.

Argus has a Buy rating for 3M with a $180 price target. The reasoning behind the rating is that this leading blue-chip industrial company appears poised to deliver low to mid-single-digit organic sales growth, which, along with margin expansion and a share buyback program, has the potential to drive high single-digit earnings growth over time.

Management is transparent about its long-term financial goals and provides regular updates that allow investors to check milestones. Management is also clearly focused on generating shareholder value, and recently announced a 20% increase in its dividend. 3M should get an earnings boost from improving global economic conditions and a stable-to-weaker dollar in 2016, as well as from new products generated through its focus on innovation. Argus noted that 3M is a global company, and generates about 65% of revenues from overseas; it is thus likely to face currency headwinds in the near term. The shares are not cheap, but Argus thinks they deserve to trade at a premium to those of other industrial companies.

Earlier in August, the company announced that it had completed its acquisition of the assets and liabilities associated with Polypore’s Separations Media business from Polypore International Inc. for a purchase price of $1.0 billion. The separations media business is a leading provider of membranes and modules for blood treatments, ultrafiltration and gas transfer in the life science, electronic, industrial, and specialty segments. 3M is a leader in residential water, commercial foodservice, industrial and life science filtration.

Based on the costs of the latest transactions, Argus lowered its 2015 EPS estimate to $7.85 from $7.95. This implies 4% growth from last year and is in the upper half of management’s guidance range. The firm also lowered its 2016 estimate to $8.70 from $8.75. The firm’s five-year earnings growth rate forecast remains 10%.

Shares of 3M were down 1.8% at $137.61 on Tuesday afternoon. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $161.36 and a 52-week trading range of $130.60 to $170.50. 3M shares have underperformed the S&P 500 and the industry over the past quarter, declining 12.5% while the broad market has fallen 7.5% and the industry average stock has fallen 9.4%.

By Chris Lange