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UPDATE 2-3M profit beats on higher demand for personal safety, home care products

(Adds analysts’ estimates, background on job cuts)

Jan 26 (Reuters) - 3M Co, which makes N95 face masks, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, helped by lower costs and higher demand for its personal safety products and home care items such as Scotch-Brite during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3M has seen robust demand for disposable respirator masks, hand sanitizers and safety glasses amid a surge in coronavirus infections. Its home improvement products ScotchBlue painter tapes and Filtrete room air purifiers also gained traction, as people stayed home during the health crisis.

The company has exposure to a wide range of end markets including aerospace and oil and gas, where demand plunged, forcing it to cut jobs and take out costs.

“We stayed focused on innovating for our customers, improving our operational execution and fighting the pandemic from every angle,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Roman said in a statement.

In December, 3M said it would cut about 2,900 jobs globally and scale back on investments in slower-growing markets as part of a restructuring that is expected to lead to pretax savings of up to $250 million.

3M said on Tuesday it expects its 2021 total sales to grow in the range of 5% to 8%, or 6.5% at the midpoint, above analysts’ average estimate of a 5.4% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company forecast full-year earnings per share between $9.20 and $9.70, or $9.45 at the midpoint, below Wall Street’s estimate of $9.52, but above $9.25 reported in 2020.

Net income attributable to 3M rose 43% to $1.40 billion, or $2.38 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, beating analysts’ estimate of $2.15 per share.

3M’s research and development expenses fell 12%, while selling, general and administrative expenses dropped about 3%.

Net sales rose 5.8% to about $8.6 billion, topping expectations of $8.4 billion. (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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