3M (MMM) Inge G. Thulin on Q4 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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3M Co. (NYSE:MMM)

Q4 2015 Earnings Call

January 26, 2016 9:00 am ET

Executives

Matthew Ginter - Vice President-Investor Relations

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Analysts

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Julian Mitchell - Credit Suisse Securities (NYSE:USA) LLC (Broker)

Shannon O'Callaghan - UBS Securities LLC

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Andrew Burris Obin - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Andrew Kaplowitz - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)

Joseph Alfred Ritchie - Goldman Sachs & Co.

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies LLC

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the 3M Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. During the presentation all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, we'll conduct a question-and-answer session. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded, Tuesday, January 26, 2016.

I would now like to turn the call over to Matt Ginter, Treasurer and Vice President of Investor Relations at 3M.

Matthew Ginter - Vice President-Investor Relations

Thank you. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our fourth quarter 2015 business review.

Let me kick off today with a reminder of our upcoming 2016 investor events. On Tuesday, March 29, we will be hosting an Investor Day at our headquarters in St. Paul, including a welcome reception the evening before at our new R&D laboratory. Registration for the event will be sent out later this week. Also, our upcoming quarterly earnings calls are scheduled for April 26, July 26 and October 25.

On the call today are Inge Thulin, 3M's Chairman, President and CEO; and Nick Gangestad, our Chief Financial Officer. Each will make some formal comments, and then we'll take your questions. As a reminder, today's earnings release and slide presentation are posted on our Investor Relations website at 3m.com.

Please take a moment to read the forward-looking statement on slide two. During today's conference call, we will make certain predictive statements that reflect our current views about 3M's future performance and financial results. These statements are based on certain assumptions and expectations of future events that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Item 1A of our most recent Form 10-K lists some of the most important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from our predictions.

Now please turn to slide three, and I will hand off to Inge.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Matt. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us.

I will open my remarks with an overview of our fourth quarter, and later in the call, I will give you a recap of our full year performance. 3M finished 2015 with another quarter of disciplined execution in a challenging external environment. Across our enterprise we controlled the controllable while investing in our business and returning cash to our shareholders. With respect to our earnings per share, we posted GAAP EPS of $1.66, down 8% year-over-year. As you recall, in October we announced our corporate restructuring which was completed in the fourth quarter. This action resulted in a Q4 pre-tax charge of $114 million and will deliver savings of $130 million in 2016.

Excluding this Q4 charge, we posted earnings per share of $1.80. Company-wide organic local currency sales declined 1.1%. Consistent with our expectations at our December outlook meeting, organic growth was down low single digits in our two industrial-related businesses, namely Industrial and Safety and Graphics. Also, as expected, Electronics and Energy decreased in the high single digits as the consumer electronics market softened.

On the positive side, our two consumer-driven businesses posted strong organic growth in the quarter. Consumer was up nearly 3% organically while Health Care increased almost 5%, its highest growth of the year.

Acquisitions added 1.5 percentage points to our sales while the stronger U.S. dollar reduced sales by nearly 6%. In total, Q4 sales were $7.3 billion.

Looking at margins, we delivered another good broad-based performance in the quarter. When you exclude restructuring, margins were up 60 basis points to a healthy 22%, with four of our five business groups posting margins greater than 21%.

In the fourth quarter we posted strong free cash flow, with a robust 182% conversion. We also continued to invest in our business while returning nearly $2 billion to our shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Overall we had a solid finish to the year.

And now I will turn the call over to Nick who will go through the details of the quarter. Nick?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Thank you, Inge, and good morning, everyone. I'll start by covering sales growth on slide four. Organic local currency sales declined 1.1% in the fourth quarter with volumes down 2.3%, partially offset by selling prices which were up 1.2%.

Acquisitions net of divestitures added 1.5 percentage points to sales. This impact includes the acquisitions of Capital Safety and Polypore's Separations Media business and Ivera Medical. Along with the divestitures of Library Systems and our license plate converting business in France. Finally, foreign currency impacts reduced sales by 5.8 percentage points with notable year-on-year declines in the euro, yen and Brazilian real.

As a result in U.S. dollar terms, fourth quarter worldwide sales declined 5.4% versus last year. In the United States, organic growth was down slightly as we experienced weak end market demand in our Industrial related businesses. At the same time, our consumer orientated businesses, Health Care and Consumer, continued to deliver positive organic growth.

Organic growth in Asia-Pacific declined 2.7%. Three of our five business groups posted positive growth in the region, led by Health Care and Consumer while Electronics and Energy declined high single digits. Within Asia-Pacific, organic growth declined by 3% in both Japan and China/Hong Kong. Excluding our electronics businesses, Japan was up 3% organically while China/Hong Kong declined 3%.

Moving to EMEA, organic growth increased 1.1% with Central East Europe up high single digits, West Europe up slightly, and Middle East Africa down mid-single-digits. Finally, organic growth in Latin America/Canada declined 60 basis points. Brazil declined 6% while Mexico continued its trend of strong organic growth increasing 7%.

Please turn to slide five for the fourth quarter P&L. Company-wide, fourth quarter sales were $7.3 billion, with operating income of $1.5 billion. GAAP operating margins in the quarter were 20.5%, down 1 percentage point year-on-year. Excluding restructuring, margins increased 60 point points to 22.1%, which reflects our ability to execute and effectively control those things within our control.

On the right hand side of this slide you'll see the various components of our fourth quarter margin performance. Let me comment on the primary drivers impacting margins during the quarter. Lower raw material costs and higher selling prices contributed 2 percentage points of margin expansion. Our global sourcing teams continue to capitalize on the impact of lower commodity prices and are generating additional savings above market. Foreign currency net of hedge gains decreased margins by 30 basis points.

Fourth quarter strategic investments lowered margins by 40 basis points, primarily driven by portfolio management actions in our renewable energy business. Similar to past quarters, higher pension and OPEB expense reduced margins by 60 basis points. Finally, our fourth quarter pre-tax restructuring charge of $114 million reduced margins by 160 basis points. As Inge mentioned, these actions will result in a pre-tax savings of approximately $130 million in 2016.

Let's now turn to slide six for a look at earnings per share. Fourth quarter GAAP earnings were $1.66 per share, down 8.3% year-on-year. Our restructuring decreased GAAP earnings by $0.14 per share. Excluding these costs, earnings were $1.80. As you see, a number of other factors also impacted our earnings. Growth and margin expansion added $0.03 to earnings in the quarter, which includes headwinds of $0.05 from pension expense and $0.04 from strategic investments.

Excluding restructuring, our fourth quarter tax rate was 28.6% versus 28% in last year's fourth quarter. This reduced earnings by $0.01 per share. Foreign currency impacts net of hedging reduced pre-tax earnings by $96 million or the equivalent of $0.11 per share. Acquisitions and divestitures increased earnings by $0.02 per share. Finally, average diluted shares outstanding declined 4% year-over-year, which added $0.06 to fourth quarter EPS.

Please turn to slide seven. We delivered strong free cash flow in the fourth quarter with a conversion rate of 182%. The primary driver was improved working capital. Free cash flow was $1.9 billion, up $199 million year-over-year. For the full year, we posted free cash flow conversion of 103%, similar to 2014. In 2015, we continued to manage towards a better optimized capital structure. We added leverage of approximately $4 billion which helped fund investments in organic growth, acquisitions and the return of cash to shareholders.

In the fourth quarter, we invested $446 million in CapEx, bringing our full year investment to just under $1.5 billion. For 2016, we expect capital expenditures to be in the range of $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion. Also in the fourth quarter, we returned $1.8 billion to shareholders via dividends and gross share repurchases. During 2015, we returned nearly $8 billion to shareholders including cash dividends of $2.6 billion and gross share repurchases of $5.2 billion.

Now let's review our business group performance starting with Industrial on slide eight. Industrial posted quarterly sales of $2.5 billion. Organic growth was minus 1.8%, reflecting a slow industrial economy which impacted our business. In particular, our advanced materials business declined high single digits impacted by weak demand in the oil and gas end market.

On a positive note, our automotive OEM business grew high single digits as we continued to gain share by increasing 3M's content per vehicle. This business has consistently grown faster than global car and light truck production levels.

3M purification also posted strong organic growth in the quarter. The acquisition of Polypore's Separations Media business, which enhances 3M's core filtration platform, added 1.7 percentage points to Industrial sales growth. Integration activities and financial performance are on track and meeting expectations.

On a geographic basis, Industrial's organic growth was positive in EMEA, Latin America/Canada and Asia-Pacific while the U.S. declined mid-single digits. The Industrial business delivered operating income of $476 million in the quarter with operating margins of 19.3% or 21% excluding restructuring. In addition, the business is absorbing the Polypore's Separations Media acquisition which reduced margins by another 50 basis points. Please turn to slide nine.

Fourth quarter sales in Safety and Graphics were down 2.5% organically to $1.3 billion. As a reminder, organic growth in this business was up over 9% in Q4 2014 which included a $30 million impact from Ebola-related demand for personal safety products. Excluding this impact, Q4 sales in our Safety and Graphics business was flat organically.

Within Safety and Graphics our commercial solutions business had another solid quarter which capped off a strong full year of mid-single digit growth. Acquisitions, net of divestitures, added 4.6 percentage points to sales growth. As a reminder, in August we acquired Capital Safety, a leading provider of fall protection equipment. Integration is on track, and the business is meeting operating income targets.

On a geographic basis, organic growth declined in all regions. Operating income was $282 million in the quarter, and operating margins increased 1 percentage point to 21.8%, or 22.7%, excluding restructuring.

The net impact from acquisitions and divestitures added 150 basis points to Safety and Graphic's fourth quarter operating margins. Please turn to slide 10.

Our Health Care business generated fourth quarter sales of $1.4 billion with organic growth of 4.5%. Organic growth was broad-based, led by double digit increases in both health information systems and food safety, with other oral care up mid-single-digits in the quarter.

The Ivera Medical acquisition added 80 basis points to fourth quarter sales growth and continues to exceed performance objectives.

Health Care grew organically in all geographic areas, led by Asia-Pacific. This business continues to drive penetration in developing markets with 8% organic growth in the quarter. China/Hong Kong was particularly strong with double digit organic growth.

Operating income was $444 million, up nearly 3% versus last year's fourth quarter. Health Care's operating margins were 32.1%, up 110 basis points year-over-year, or up 180 basis points, excluding restructuring. We continue to be pleased with the strong and consistent performance of our Health Care business and will continue to invest in this business to drive greater success.

Next let's cover Electronics and Energy on slide 11. Fourth quarter sales for this business group were $1.2 billion, down 7.7% organically. On the electronics side, organic sales declined 8%, impacted by weakness in the consumer electronics end market and excess channel inventory. We expect this softness to continue into the first quarter.

Our energy-related businesses were down 6% organically as sales declined in renewable energy, telecom and electrical markets. On a geographic basis, organic growth was down across all areas.

Operating income for Electronics and Energy was $200 million, with operating margins of 16.5% or 17.5%, excluding restructuring. In addition, portfolio management actions in our Renewable Energy business reduced Electronics and Energy margins by 2.4 percentage points. For the full year, operating margins were 21.1%, up from 19.9% in 2014. Our portfolio actions in this business group over the last three years continued to pay off in 2015. These actions are enabling us to deliver solid margins even in the face of challenging conditions in both Electronics and Energy end markets.

I'll finish with our Consumer business on slide 12. Fourth quarter sales in Consumer were $1.1 billion. Organic growth was solid 2.7% paced by our home improvement business. This business continues to win in the marketplace with leading brands, such as Filtrete filters and Command adhesives. Stationery and office supplies and home care were also up organically while organic sales declined in consumer health care.

Fourth quarter holiday sales were strong, driven by solid demand for our category-leading Scotch and Command branded products. Looking at Consumer geographically, organic growth was broad-based across all areas, led by the U.S. Consumer's operating income was $254 million with operating margins of 23.1% or 23.4% excluding restructuring.

That wraps up our review of the fourth quarter business results. Please turn to slide 13, and I'll turn it back over to Inge. Inge?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Nick. With another solid margin and cash flow performance, our fourth quarter capped off a year of disciplined execution and efficient growth from our global team. Even in a low growth environment, we expanded full year margins nearly a full percentage point to 23.3%, excluding restructuring. In 2015, for second year in a row we posted free cash flow conversion above 100%. We also delivered a strong return on invested capital of 22.5%, coming on top of a 22% return in 2014.

Beyond these solid financial results, I view 2015 as a fundamentally important year in terms of 3M's future. This is because of the investments we made and the actions we took to position our company for long-term success. As you see, last year, we invested a total of $7 billion in research and development, acquisitions and CapEx. We also made significant progress on our three key levers which represent important value creators for our enterprise. The first is portfolio management, which is all about strengthening and focusing in our portfolio of businesses. We do this through both acquisitions and divestiture and also through business consolidation.

Last year, we took actions on all fronts. In Health Care, as an example, we combined our dental and orthodontic businesses into one single oral care solution business. Consolidating businesses allow us to allocate resources to our best opportunities while creating greater customer relevance, scale, productivity, and improved speed.

Since 2012, in fact, we have realigned from six sectors to five business groups and from 40 businesses to 26. To complement organic growth, we also made three strategic acquisitions in 2015. This includes Capital Safety and Polypore's Separations Media business which enhanced two of our core technology platforms, personal safety and filtration. At the same time, we divested three businesses that no longer fit within our portfolio.

Investing in innovation is our second lever. Last year, we invested $1.8 billion in research and development. As you have heard me say many times, research and development is the heartbeat of our company. It enables us to both invent and manufacture cutting-edge, relevant and unique products for our customers. This in turn drives organic growth, which is our primary growth metric and also supports our premium margins and return on invested capital. Last year, in addition to investing in technology development, we took action to better connect our scientific capabilities to our customers around the world. We opened six new customer technical centers, including in West Europe, Middle East/Africa and Asia-Pacific. We also opened our new state-of-the-art research laboratory in the United States which we look forward to showing you at our Investor Day in March.

Our third lever, business transformation, starts and ends with our customers. It's about transforming our business processes to make it easier and quicker for our customers to do business with us anywhere around the world. The backbone of business transformation is our new global ERP system. In 2015, we made good progress, most recently, with the successful roll-out in the Nordic countries.

We also announced the creation of three global service centers which will optimize our delivery of transactional services and service a broader platform for operational effectiveness into the future. We expect business transformation to result in $500 million to $700 million in annual operational savings by 2020 and another $0.5 billion reduction in working capital. That covers our three levels, and I'm very pleased with our progress in all of them.

In addition to work we did on those levers, we made other investments to position 3M for success in both the short- and long-term. As we have talked about before, we run our company with one eye on the microscope and the other eye on the telescope. Or in other words, making sure we are positioned for success today and many years into the future.

Let me give you two examples. First, on the telescope view, we made a significant investment related to our brand equity. Our 3M brand is strong, and last year we invested in a new brand platform, 3M Science. Applied to Life. To make it even stronger. This will enhance awareness of how 3M uses science to solve problems for our customers which go back to our vision of improving every company, every home and every life. Next on the microscope view, we completed a corporate restructuring focused on structural overhead and slower growing markets which will help us manage through the current economic realities. And we made all these investments last year while also return $8 billion to our shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

When I look upon all we accomplished in 2015, it was a fundamentally important year for the future of our enterprise. As you can see, we are continuing to build an even stronger, more competitive company that will win in 2016 and beyond.

And on slide 14, you will see our planning estimates for this year which are unchanged from December's outlook meeting. We estimate earnings per share in the range of $8.10 to $8.45, an increase of 7% to 11% year-over-year. Organic growth is expected to be 1% to 3%, with acquisitions adding 1% to sales. Finally, we expect our free cash flow conversion in the range of 95% to 105%.

With that, I thank you for your attention, and we will now take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

One moment while we compile the Q&A roster. And our first question comes from the line of Scott Davis with Barclays. Please proceed with your question.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Hi. Good morning, guys.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Good morning, Scott.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

It looks like you were pretty aggressive in restructuring in 4Q. Can you give us a sense of the payback, what kind of tailwind in 2016, and what impact on guidance I suppose? And then just how much of that restructuring do you think you have to continue to do in 2016, just given the relatively weak macro out there?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Scott, the restructuring that we announced in October, throughout the fourth quarter we executed that almost exactly as we laid out then. We're for the fourth quarter $114 million pre-tax charge. And from that we're expecting $130 million operating income benefit in 2016. We expect that benefit to be pretty evenly loaded across the four quarters of 2016. And in regards to need for others, based on the outlook we have for the business and for the rest of 2016, we never say never but we don't – we're not anticipating anything at this time.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Okay. That's really helpful.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

And, Scott, this is Inge.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Yes.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

We just came off kickoff for the year under the theme of efficient growth. And I think it's important for us to say, that as Nick said, you never know what you need to take for action, but my view is now with a range 1% to 3% on the top line, even in the lower range of that we should be able to prepare our self for when the market turnaround and stat to grow again.

So I would like to have an efficient model where we can deliver now but also be prepared as we see things start to turn around, hopefully later in the year, but for sure you'll go into the future a couple of years. So you're right. You never know if it's becoming tough or what you need to do. But I think with the action we took now, at least I feel that we are prepared to deliver what we are telling you. And also, equally important, be ready to go offensive as soon as we see it's coming.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Yeah, makes sense, Inge. Is part of the go offensive potential related to M&A? I mean, you still have plenty of balance sheet space. And I would assume, given what's going on in the public markets, that private market evaluations are coming down a bit. Would you entertain getting more aggressive with M&A in 2016 if we're in a soft spot that gets tougher?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, the primary strategy for us is organic local currency growth. But I think we are willing and open to do things like we did in 2015. We did a couple of good acquisitions in 2015 in order to build out our platforms both from a technology perspective, but also be more relevant in the market. So the answer to that is that the pipeline is good for our businesses and again it's coming back to the evaluation of the asset as we look upon them.

Scott Reed Davis - Barclays Capital, Inc.

That's helpful. Okay. Good luck, guys. Thanks. I'll pass it on.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Steven Winoker of Bernstein. Please proceed with your question.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Thanks. Good morning, guys.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Good morning, Steve.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Steve.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Could you talk about the destocking impact within that negative 2.3%? What are you seeing in the channels and sell in, sell out and how much of a factor was that this quarter?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

When we look upon the inventory, you can say that consumer-related businesses like Health Care and Consumer, they're on a level that is very good, right. And you see the growth there. I will say that if you look upon industrial-related businesses, there's maybe a couple of weeks, but not more than two, of excess inventory in the channels as we see it. And if you go to consumer electronics, it's a little bit higher. And we estimate that maybe to be like maybe closer to three weeks of excess inventory at this point in time in the channels. So let's say two plus in industrial-related business and Electronics and Energy, or consumer electronic. And we don't see any issues at all in the Health Care and Consumer businesses.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

So that means unless things get worse you'd expect that to be fully flushed out in the quarter we're in right now, Q1 or...?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

I think we have to be on careful on the industrial sized businesses and consumer electronic. I don't know if it will be flushed out this coming quarter, but it should be if end market come back a little bit. I would say you should think about it in the second quarter.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Okay.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

When we look upon growth rate, and I think Nick said that in consumer electronic and our business EEBG, we say that growth rate Q1 be very similar to Q4. Maybe slightly worse, but I will say similar. And for the company, we will compensate that through our Consumer and Health Care businesses and a little bit more uptick in Industrial.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Okay. And on page five, the productivity and other contribution of 0%, I know that's ex restructuring down in the bottom. But maybe just talk through again. I think I missed or not sure why that's only zero.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, Steve, that's a function partially of a lower growth environment that we're offsetting inflation that we're seeing there. But it's not enhancing our margin. It's tougher in a lower negative growth environment to be eking out productivity, plus we used our levers of restructuring and which we called out separately with the 1.6% impact on the margin. So we executed strongly to adjust the cost structure. But in the end, outside of the restructuring, it had zero impact on our total margin for the quarter.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Right. Well, all the incremental or decremental leverage on the organic volume was 0.2% below that, right?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Right.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

So this was just purely, you're just saying you offset the wage inflation and is that usually around a couple percent or is it much lower right now?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Total wage inflation is more in the 2% to 3% range.

Steven Eric Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC

Okay. All right. Thanks, guys.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Deane Dray of RBC Capital Markets. Please proceed with your question.

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Thank you. Good morning, everyone.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Hey, wanted to follow up on Scott's question regarding has any of the year-opening market volatility changed your plan to add incremental debt or any changes in your buyback strategy for 2016?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Deane, our strategy that we announced in December for incremental leverage and for gross share repurchases of – we announced that to be in the $4 billion to $6 billion range. Those remain unchanged for us. That's our plan, we think it continues to be the good and right plan for us for 2016.

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Thanks. And, Nick, maybe just walk through the – I know seasonally you have strong fourth quarter cash conversion. This seems even above that. Was that any working capital improvements? And then any comments on the hedging program, how has it played out? And with regard to expectations against this volatility?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

First, Deane, on the free cash flow conversion, you know there's seasonality. The first quarter of any year is typically our lowest free cash flow conversion, and the fourth quarter of the year is typically our highest free cash flow conversion. We saw that play out in 2015, and we'd expect that to play out in 2016.

In particular what you're seeing in the fourth quarter, there's a couple things. One is working capital. We did a good job managing working capital throughout the fourth quarter. And in addition, the restructuring expenses of $114 million pre-tax, much of that did not yet result in a cash outflow. That cash outflow will come in the first half of 2016. So we're seeing a little bit of movement between 2015 and 2016 there.

As far as hedging, Deane, we continue to manage our hedging strategy as I've described in the past that over the next 12 months we attempt to hedge approximately 50% of our economic exposure, and then in certain developed currencies we layer on additional hedges on a diminishing scale out into the second and third year. That's playing out as we planned. For the total 2015, we had a hedging benefit of $182 million, and if foreign exchange rates stay where they are today, that $182 million will become approximately $160 million for total 2016.

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

It's $160 million to the good?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

$160 million hedge gain.

Deane Dray - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Got it. Thank you very much.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Deane.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Julian Mitchell of Credit Suisse. Please proceed with your question.

Julian Mitchell - Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC (Broker)

Hi. Thank you. So price cost is another good margin tailwind in Q4. I just wondered how you were thinking right now about the overall $0.10 to $0.15 raw materials boost in the EPS bridge you gave six weeks ago? And when you gave that guidance, how much of that $0.10 to $0.15 was assumed to come in the first half of this year relative the second half?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, Julian. We – yeah, the 200 basis points this quarter, I'll just make a little comment on that before I go on to the 2016. Of that 200 basis points, 110 basis points of that is coming from raw material commodity price benefits and another 90 basis points from increases in our selling prices. When we gave the guidance in December of $0.10 to $0.15 for raw material, we were basing that on the oil price assumption of $45 to $55 a barrel. We all know where oil is today, right around $30. A rough ballpark for us is a $10 movement in oil. It helps us for an entire year by $0.02 to $0.03. So our thinking right now is we're right about at the high end of that $0.10 to $0.15. And at the time we guided this, in December, we saw virtually all of that benefit coming in the first half of 2016. We still see it heavily weighted to the first half of 2016, but we can see some of that benefit if oil stays in this range coming into the second half as well.

Julian Mitchell - Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC (Broker)

Very helpful. Thank you. And then my second question would just be around Electronics and Energy where you talked about portfolio management actions in renewables reducing the margin by 240 points. Maybe just give – maybe I missed it in your prepared remarks, but could you give some more color around what's happening there?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, as you have seen, we have taken action for quite some time now in order to prepare that business really for the future. And, I think we have been successful for that relative to margin expansion and also growth rates. And as I said on the other calls, what I feel very good about is that that model now will deliver very solid margins, even in a tough economical environment with slower growth. And we have proven that's something very good about that. This quarter we took actually a write-off on an asset we had that didn't make sense any longer for us. And we asked – because we had a quarter here where we could do it, and the strategic important of that asset for us, it was not there any longer. And I'm very, very keen to prepare that business for an even stronger future. So it was based on an asset that we took a write off of.

Julian Mitchell - Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC (Broker)

Thanks. And lastly very quickly, organic sales in Q1 overall, 3M firm wide, should we assume it's about the same or a little bit worse than the minus 1% in Q4?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

I would say that as we said earlier, I will assume be equal to Q4. And then we will see how it play out in between the different businesses, right. For me, it looked like – and for us it looked like Health Care and Consumer will continue with an accelerated growth. We are very pleased with that because that's again showing the strengths for us in our diverse portfolio. And also when you look upon the margins that is good, right. That's very, very good margins in Health Care and as you have seen in Consumer really improve the margins the last couple of years as well.

I would say that Electronics and Energy is probably a business and consumer electronics specifically that then will be similar to this quarter. Maybe slightly down in that segment specifically. But I will say, think about it as – 3M as an enterprise very similar to Q4 and Q1 of this year.

Julian Mitchell - Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC (Broker)

Great. Thank you.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Okay. Our next question comes from the line of Shannon O'Callaghan of UBS. Please proceed with your question.

Shannon O'Callaghan - UBS Securities LLC

Good morning, guys

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Shannon.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Good morning, Shannon.

Shannon O'Callaghan - UBS Securities LLC

Hey. In the Health Care business, drug delivery was up this quarter. I mean that's I think been a drag for a while. Is that now turned around? And what's your view on that piece of the business for 2016.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

That business is very much project-based so it would go a little bit up and down but we will see slightly better growth rate in 2016 versus 2015. And, again, you – as you recall, this quarter you mentioned this quarter showed slight growth versus where have been in last three quarters in a tougher situation. So again based on what we see in the pipeline we are more positive on that piece of the business for 2016 versus what we were able to deliver in 2015. So your observation is correct. And I will say your assumption moving forward, we hope that you're correct on that as well.

Shannon O'Callaghan - UBS Securities LLC

Okay. Thanks. Then just on Europe, I mean, it's something I think last year, you were kind of expecting to improve through the year, maybe came a little lower than you thought originally. What's your updated view on what you're seeing there and your expectations for Europe anything getting incrementally more encouraging or less encouraging?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Europe for long time have been a challenge relative to growth rate in the market, right? And we have taken action very much on the efficiency part and the productivity part. And as you saw when you added it together now there was a growth of Europe, Middle East, Africa but the three pieces is that Middle East/Africa down, Central Europe up 8% and slight up in West Europe. So West Europe, we have slight growth and I think that would be very dependent on how Germany can come off in 2016. And we have also to think about it that Central East Europe, that growth rate was very much price that came out from our action we took in Russia.

So Central East Europe, Middle East/Africa take that portion of it, generally speaking it's a challenging environment geopolitically that we then have to be careful of. And West Europe you see some spots of growth but I think very important thing there is that Germany, the machine of Germany has started to deliver a little bit more growth. And we maybe can see a little bit more there. I think we are well prepared in that part of the world due to work that we have done for the last, I would say maybe the last five years of streamlined organization taking out structure, bigger span of control and lower levels in organization, et cetera, in terms of management.

Still, kept focus on our execution around commercialization as we have so many different languages as you know over there. So you need be very nimble and fast in execution in each country and then that will reduce management structures as much as you can.

Shannon O'Callaghan - UBS Securities LLC

Okay, great. Thanks.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Jeffrey Sprague of Vertical Research Partners. Please proceed with your question.

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Thank you. Good morning, everyone.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Jeff.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Good morning, Jeff.

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Good morning. I was wondering if you could come back to price. And, Inge, you mentioned that – what percent of your price is kind of actions that are countering FX kind of like you mentioned in Russia I'm sure versus like-for-like price? And maybe speak to the ability to get like-to-like price in this environment?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Jeff, I can speak on this both for the quarter and the year. It's a similar story. About 75% of our total reported price growth is in direct or indirect response to FX movements, primarily in developing markets. So if you look at our 120 basis points, about three quarters of that directly a result of FX movement. Our core ability to impact price excluding FX has ranged in the 30 basis points to 50 basis points. And we continue to see that range going forward for the company, that into 2016. The delta on top of that is – will be dependent on what happens with FX movements. But 30 basis point to 50 basis point of core, and then whatever on top of that, that may happen if FX rates move even more than what we laid out in December.

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Great. And we should assume that the write off you took is equivalent to that 2.4 points of margin pressure in E&E? Is that correct?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yep, Jeff. That's exactly correct.

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Okay. And then just finally, could you just speak to the actual kind of direct/indirect oil and gas exposures that you do have in Industrial and S&S (48:44)? And how you see that playing into the early part of the year especially?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Okay. So, Jeff, to be clear you said in Industrial and Safety and Graphics?

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Yeah, I'm thinking within safety kind of fall prevention and protection gear and things like that? And then obviously in Industrial you've got some.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, some of our direct exposure is what we're selling through the personal safety line. And what I'll say to that is as 2015 progressed, we probably didn't see a lot of impact in the first quarter, and then that grew for us in 2015 in the second through fourth quarter. We continued – we expect that to continue into the first quarter of 2016. And there will still be some negative impact after that from oil and gas, but we think the worst of the comps will be behind us from oil and gas after the first quarter and then diminishing the rest of the year.

Probably a similar comment for the Industrial portion. We have some of our advanced materials that are impacted by – that go into the oil and gas industry. And then we also have some exposure in our Electronics and Energy business, and the comps for that we think for the first quarter for sure, and possibly in the second quarter we'll still be seeing some challenge there. Jeff.

Matthew Ginter - Vice President-Investor Relations

Jeff, to put a number on it at a total company level, if you took the businesses directly linked to oil and gas, it would be about 3% of our sales. Just as with the economy, any knock-on effects of a slower oil and gas market clearly are impacting the economy, but the direct exposure to oil and gas would be about 3% for us.

Jeff T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners LLC

Great. Thank you for that color. Appreciate it.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Nigel Coe of Morgan Stanley. Please proceed with your question.

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Good morning. Hi.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Nigel.

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

I just wanted to go back to Nick's comments on price, 30 bps of core price plus whatever the FX movements are. But obviously you don't have price baked into your 2016 bridge specifically. But I'm assuming that's part of your organics? I'm just wondering, do you have what, right now, 50 bps of price within your organic bridge?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Nigel, in our guidance the way we said it we expect 1% to 3% organic the vast majority of that volume. So 30 basis points to 50 basis points of price in that 1% to 3% total organic growth.

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Okay. That's helpful. And then I wanted to clarify the impact of acquisitions and disposals on Safety and Graphics. Obviously a strong margin performance there. But is the benefit from disposals because the Library Systems business was so much lower margin? Or is there a small gain there? Or is it both of those factors?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Nigel, we divested of two businesses in Safety and Graphics in the fourth quarter, our library systems as well as a license plate converting business in France. The net impact of those two resulted in a small gain, accretive to our earnings per share of approximately $0.015 cents. The rest of the total impact of M&A on Safety and Graphics is our acquisition of Capital Safety doing a little better than what we had been projecting.

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Okay. That's very helpful. Thank you very much.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Steve Tusa of JPMorgan. Please proceed with your question.

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Hey, good morning.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Steve.

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Just looking at the bridge on slide six, I think, for basically just trying kind of to understand the seasonality and kind of sequencing. Using those buckets, probably not a ton of change in tax and foreign exchange, those are probably pretty straightforward. What is the M&A contribution for first quarter year-over-year that you guys expect? I know there was some noise in numbers, obviously, with charges and stuff. But what is the M&A contribution in the first quarter year-over-year?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Steve, for the total year we guided approximately $0.10 benefit. Our view is that that will be quite evenly distributed over the four quarters. So for the first quarter, roughly one-quarter of that $0.10 benefit. And that's inclusive of the impact of the most recent portfolio action that we announced a few days ago with the small business in our Industrial business. So...

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Okay. Got it. Makes sense. So I guess when I kind of add all these items up, and I'm not really asking for a precise guidance here, but you guys are calling for a 7% to 12% EPS growth over the course of the year. Is that, is every quarter kind of within that range? Or with the little bit lighter organic, is that enough to get you below the low end of that range for the first quarter year-over-year?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Steve...

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

You're trying to get us to give quarterly guidance, right?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, I...

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Well, I think it's good to calibrate this stuff with the sequencing of what's happening in the year organically.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Steve, we've talked about the organic growth that we're expecting in the first quarter. That is a quarter that I would expect will be more challenged also from an earnings per share growth. Everything else being equal, there's not one outlier that will compensate for the, what we've already said about the organic growth in the first quarter.

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Right. Okay. That's kind of what I was getting at. Great. And then one last question just on the balance sheet. I know in prior years you guys have kind of toggled up the repurchase in some instances. I mean, are you, given that you're at the end of your most recent kind of five-year plan, should we think about buybacks as pretty much set? Or could you kind of toggle that up like you've done in past years from your standing 2016 guide at some point? What's the appetite there?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, our appetite is pretty well-reflected by the $4 billion to $6 billion guidance that we stated. I will reiterate, our approach is there's a certain amount where we're in the market every day of buying. And then there's a portion that we are flexing up and down, depending on the relative value we see of 3M stock. And we continue to follow that playbook in how we repurchase our shares in 2016.

Charles Stephen Tusa - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Great. Thanks a lot.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Steve.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Andrew Obin of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Please proceed with your question.

Andrew Burris Obin - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Good morning, guys.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Hi, Andrew.

Andrew Burris Obin - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Hey. Just a question on Electronics and Energy. How much visibility forward do you have on this whole smartphone situation because it's one of the concerns we've been hearing from investors, that being a disproportionate hit on your business?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

We have – as you know, we work on those platforms daily with our customers. So I think that when we have laid out our plan for the year, we have good understanding relative to when new introductions will come and our position on them. And we have a good position, as you know. We got to hit now, of course, not because of that we were spec-ed out or lost anything, just because the market was down. And this is estimated to be down in Q1 as well, as you have seen in media. And I think we will see an uptick coming in the second half of the year. Hopefully we have orders coming in, I would say, in terms of in end of second quarter is when we will start to see orders coming in to us for launch later in the year.

Andrew Burris Obin - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And can you help to frame the risk from technological disruption? Also been getting questions on transition to OLEDs and how that impacts the business, because I think people remember what happened a decade ago with flat screen TVs and try to draw a parallel here?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, well we are aware of competition in terms of technologies to LCD such as OLED, which is the one you refer to. And we have known that for a long time. That's also one of the reasons why we realigned our organization to form our display materials and system business in early 2014. And there's an integration of those businesses into what I would call display technologies, which is a goal for the future for us to expand into. And we have already products that is going into equipment that are using OLEDs. So we are not behind in any way. We have on every, I would say, every equipment today that are using OLED, we have multiple applications in them. And there's more to come in that area. But we have been working on this area for quite some time. And that's part of our model. That's why I would say the strengths of 3M through our technology platforms, this is exactly where it is, right. So I see more opportunities as you go ahead over the longer term as we are working with our customers on it.

Andrew Burris Obin - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Thank you very much.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Andy Kaplowitz of Citi. Please proceed with your questions.

Andrew Kaplowitz - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)

Hey. Good morning, guys.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Good morning, Andy.

Andrew Kaplowitz - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)

Obviously some good margin performance in Industrial and Safety and Graphics despite lower organic growth. So as you go through the year, how much ability do you have to keep margins up even with the headwinds that you see? I know you had guided to about 150 basis points of margin improvement for the company for 3M in 2016 when you had your guidance call. Is that still what you expect within the guidance?

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, Andy, that 150 basis points, that's still a good ballpark. There's a lot of things that are going into that, including our estimate of 1% to 3% organic growth. Some productivity coming from things such as our business transformation investment, our pension expense as well as some strategic investments. All-in, we're seeing many of those things play out exactly as we guided in December. The 150 basis points is still a good number.

Andrew Kaplowitz - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)

Okay. That's helpful. And your consumer businesses were strong in the quarter. Maybe they slowed a little bit versus last quarter and year-over-year growth. So just the resiliency of the consumer right now, it seems like the consumer is still pretty strong, but your view?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, it is very strong. And I think there is a couple of things that is important to think about relative to 3M and our position in the market. We are very strong in United States in our consumer business. So we have a stronger and better penetration in United States than we have outside of United States. If you look upon United States specifically, and you look upon data and facts, which is a key indicator for us relative to potential growth rates, we all know that there is a challenge on IPI as we go into 2016. And the fact there is saying that it's slower Q1, Q2, maybe Q3, and then Q4 it will pick up again on IPI year-over-year.

If you look upon retail sales index, it's actually different. It's very robust as we go in already to Q1 and Q2 and for the rest of the year. So I would say that our business there is in a good position. And we feel very good about it. We have very good brands. We add a lot of value into the channels, and we are managing a lot of categories in that business.

The same goes for Health Care. Health Care is the same. Health Care for us, and I'm not talking U.S. versus outside of U.S. there. I am talking about developed economies versus developing economies. And 80% of our portfolio in Health Care is in developed economies, meaning developing is still a huge opportunity for us. And we are growing very well there. And our margins are very high. So I think that's coming back to in times like this, where you see some challenges in some economies around the world, if that's in Industrial or Electronics or even in safety.

We have the advantage that we have domestic-driven businesses in Consumer and Health Care that this carries on. And you saw that this quarter again, Health Care had almost 5% organic local currency, the strongest for the year and with margin expansion. It's just a fantastic business for us and the same go for consumer. So we feel very, very good about them. And it's sustainable. I think that's the important thing that it is a sustainable business model for us based on world class product solutions.

Andrew Kaplowitz - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)

Thanks, guys.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Joe Ritchie of Goldman Sachs. Please proceed with your question.

Joseph Alfred Ritchie - Goldman Sachs & Co.

Thanks. Good morning, guys.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Joe.

Joseph Alfred Ritchie - Goldman Sachs & Co.

So two quick questions. Maybe focused on your Industrial business for a second. Inge, you've had some distributors recently talking about improving short cycle trends in January and there's been some green shoots that we're seeing as well out of the semi sector. Just wondering is there anything across your Industrial business today where you're starting to feel better about things incrementally or is it still – the trends are still very similar to what we've been feeling for the last six months?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

No. I would say that there are certain pieces in our business that are doing very well. And I can – 3M purification is doing extremely well. Had a growth rate in the quarter of 10%. And for the full year 8%. Automotive OEM is doing very well for us. Had a growth in the quarter of 7% and in fact for the whole year is around 7%. And then I think that some – where the pressure is just now is I would say general manufacturing. And then that go broad based, right? But I will not say short term. As we're talking here in the next quarter or the next five months, I don't see that we will see a big pick up. I think it would be very similar in Q1 versus Q4. But some businesses doing very well; automotive OEM and purification doing extremely well.

But we have also to think about it in terms of growth on a global base. So United States, there was pressure this quarter down 6. But we were growing in many other cases around the world. And I think that's important to think about in terms of us as a global growth company. So we had organic growth in India, China. We grew 6% in China. If you think about that, it's a big market, second biggest subsidiary for 3M outside of United States and the second biggest economy in the world. Still for us our Industrial business in the quarter, 6% growth; we had 3% growth in Japan and United States was an issue.

So I think we have to balance it out in terms of how we look upon the future here. And we have decided and we are a global growth company. So I will say that as you go into the year, we will see – we should see, we should see an uptick coming into the second half of 2016 for Industrial.

Joseph Alfred Ritchie - Goldman Sachs & Co.

That's a really helpful color, Inge, and maybe my follow-on for Nick. Now that the restructuring is done at least the cost actions have been taken in 4Q, any additional color you can give us on the cadence of the restructuring? I know it needs – it's going to be the restructuring benefits. I know it's supposed to be second half weighted but any additional color would be great.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Yeah, Joe, the benefits in fact will not be second half weighted. From a comp standpoint, yes, but the fact that charge out came in the fourth quarter of 2015. But the actual benefits going forward will be quite evenly weighted across the fourth quarters of 2016.

Joseph Alfred Ritchie - Goldman Sachs & Co.

Oh great. That's great color. Nice job executing in this tough environment, guys.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Nicholas C. Gangestad - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Thanks, Joe.

Operator

And our final question comes from the line of Laurence Alexander of Jefferies. Please proceed with your question.

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies LLC

Good morning. Two quick ones. Just wanted to flag – in auto OEM are you seeing any soft spots around the world? And secondly as you look at your share gains, do you see those as sustainable? Or is that a pro-cyclical phenomena that is as end markets improve your pace of share gains slows down?

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

No. They are sustainable. If you think about it, you're going to look upon the facts we have now for three to four years outgrown the automotive production on a global base. So our growth is always more robust than the total output of cars produced. That is indicating that we penetrate and take more application per car. That is sustainable by definition, due to the fact that we provide solutions that is helping automotive industries with technology conversion. So don't view us as a commodity player that is coming in, he has to try to replace someone. For us, it's about technology conversion moving you to the next level on your specific retail in order for you to be able to compete in the marketplace. So that is sustainable by definition, and that's what 3M is all about.

I will not say today that I see any differentiation where someone is becoming much, much stronger geographically, some other weaker geographically in terms of production of cars. That is where we play, right. We design-in, spec-in always at the headquarters of companies, if that's in Germany, Japan or United States. And then where the car is produced, that is where we have the teams to put the application in place, a type of development and deployment. And I don't feel there's any differentiation there on a geographical base. But our model is sustainable.

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies LLC

Thank you.

Matthew Ginter - Vice President-Investor Relations

Thanks, Lawrence.

Operator

That concludes the question-and-answer portion of our conference call. I will now turn the call back over to Inge Thulin for closing comments.

Inge G. Thulin - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you. To wrap up, 2015 was an important year for 3M as we made investments and took actions to propel ourselves for the future. As a result, we are well positioned to drive efficient growth and create greater value for our shareholders in 2016 and beyond. I thank you for joining us, and we look forward to seeing you all here in St. Paul in March. Have a great day.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation, and ask that you please disconnect your line.

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