Sales grew 10% in the first nine months of 2007, while gross margins increased slightly, from 22% in 2006 to 23% so far this year according to Morningstar report. The company has also improved its pipeline of new products.
3M's broad product line also lessens the likelihood that a slowing U.S. economy will stall sales growth and some of the company’s fast-growing businesses are in defensive segments of the economy, such as health care, security, transportation and education.
Rapid growth in emerging nations is clearly helping spur 3M's top line growth. Sales to developing countries, particularly those in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, have grown 19% per year since 2002. More than 60% of 3M's $24 billion in revenue over the past 12 months has come from overseas operations.