"By focusing on the fundamentals of operating excellence, new product growth, international strength and leadership development, we were able to deliver solid financial 2002 results," McNerney said. "We achieved these results by driving growth and operations, in large part through the success of the corporate initiatives: Six Sigma, 3M Acceleration, eProductivity, Global Sourcing Effectiveness and Indirect Cost Control. Last year, these initiatives had a combined profit impact of more than a half billion dollars," he said.
3M's solid results continued in the first quarter this year, McNerney said, with sales up 11 percent and earnings per share up more than 11 percent. Excluding special items, earnings per share increased more than 15 percent. Free cash flow was $644 million, up 26 percent from the year-earlier quarter. "The entire 3M team is excited by these results," McNerney said. "At the same time, we know that economic and geopolitical uncertainty persists -- and it's important to maintain a cautious economic outlook in our planning," he said.
He told shareholders that, through the initiatives, 3M is on track to achieve double-digit earnings and cash growth in 2003. "We are confident in our ability to achieve our top-line and profitability goals along with higher cash flow and a healthy balance sheet," he said.
While investing in growth, 3M also continues to pay an attractive shareholder dividend, McNerney said. In February, 3M increased its quarterly dividend for the 45th consecutive year. The company has paid dividends on its common stock without interruption for 87 years.