3M Company (NYSE:MMM) Morgan Stanley’s 11th Annual Laguna Conference Call September 13, 2023 10:00 AM ET
Monish Patolawala – Chief Financial Officer
Bruce Jermeland – Investor Relations
Conference Call Participants
Joshua Pokrzywinski – Morgan Stanley
Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to day 2 of Laguna. Thanks for making day 1 a success. I think a success, had some good feedback and some good conversations with companies. I think to keep the momentum going here, where we are started off with, I think, a great bellwether to have a good conversation, certainly a lot going on with 3M these days. Monish Patolawala, CFO; Bruce Jermeland, IR. Thank you both for joining us. Good to see you guys as always. Monish, maybe just kind of start us off what you are seeing? Any other observations you want to make up upfront and then we will dive into some questions, if that’s alright.
Good. Excellent. Thanks for having us and it’s always a great conference to come to and thanks for all of you who attend because it’s great to have the one-on-one dialogues too. I just thought I’ll give a quick update on 3M strategy. I’ll make it into three pillars to make it easier for people and in no particular order at all. One is the spin of healthcare. As you know, the teams are doing an amazing job. It’s pretty much on track from a process perspective. Effective September 1, we announced a new CEO for our healthcare business. Bryan Hanson, who is a seasoned medtech leader, came to us from Zimmer Biomet. He was the Chairman and CEO of Zimmer Biomet. He has also had experience with Covidien Medtronic. He is on the ground. He is starting to get to know the team. He has immersed himself in the business and already quickly working through all the different steps that he needs to take to make sure we have a successful spin.
But to be fair to him, we want to make sure we give him a little bit of time to immerse himself in the business, understand the business a little better. So practically, I think our spin is sometime first half 2024. Of course, it’s subject to regulatory and board approval, but the work streams are all on track. And as we get the perfect date, we will let you know on what that is.
As we go into the second strategy, which is reducing risk and trying to drive more certainty to stakeholders when it comes to our litigation, you will have all seen we have had two big announcements recently that hopefully has started to give some more clarity and certainty to the litigation exposure. The most recent one was our settlement, a broad settlement to resolve our issues in Combat Arms litigation. It’s a settlement that’s approximately $6 billion. It’s $5 billion in cash, $1 billion in 3M equity that will get paid over 7 years. It’s intended to resolve all our Combat Arms cases, both in MDL and in Minnesota State Court as well as future claims that could come in. We are in preliminary approval. The judge had a hearing last Friday about it, gave plaintiffs a chance to hear on how they can participate in the settlement. The court has also passed an order to set up the settlement fund. We have gone ahead and funded the settlement fund that we had to do as well as we have got releases from the 13 of the successful cases that were there through the MDL. So we have got their releases too. So I would say the case is in progress and hopefully that will get resolved, because it’s good for all parties.
The second one was our PFAS settlement. So we have had a broad class settlement with public water authorities in the United States, who provide, I would say, majority of the drinking water for citizens in the United States. It’s a settlement that is present value of $10.3 billion payable over 13 years. It’s a settlement that takes care of PFAS at any level found now or in the future, takes care of any PFAS found now or in the future. And it’s not only related to the couple of compounds that were under litigation in the past few years. That’s also moving to preliminary approval. We are happy that the court approved it preliminary. We are happy that we were able to address the questions the AGs had and they have also supported the movement of this settlement. The dates there – there is an opt-out period for PWS authorities, bodies who don’t want to be a part of it, which is December 2 and then December 11, and then the judge has a final fairness hearing in early February of 2024. I forgot to mention when it comes to Combat Arms, we will be taking a charge this quarter of $4.2 billion. The present value of that $6 billion is $5.3 billion and our intent there is to make it as an adjusted to our earnings when we provide adjusted earnings net of unusual items and this will be one of that.
When I then go to our third big pillar, which is continuing to make sure that we can successfully and sustainably deliver on the 3M promise or deliver the 3M model, you have seen based on what you’ve seen with our first half results, the team has executed well. They are starting to make progress, whether it is in our supply chain, whether it is making sure that we are taking care of customers, etcetera. And you can see in the first half – when we came into the year, Josh, we had said we see weakness in electronics, we see weakness in consumer and China was a watch item. As we now look at first half in third and fourth quarter, we are still seeing significant slowness in electronics, consumers. I would say that destocking, I think we have got through the worst of it. Of course, what’s going to happen is we will see how the back-to-school and holiday season play itself out, but we believe that, that weakness in consumer will continue through the year.
China has been slower. It was slower in the first half. We are continuing to see it slower in the third quarter. But when you put all that together, in the first half, we actually came in higher than where we wanted or where we said we would be on a revenue basis, mainly driven by FX, but at the same time, we have done a great job of making sure that we are taking care of our customers, continuing to work lead times, etcetera, that’s helping customers out at the same time, of course, it helps our revenue out.
And then when I go to the margin side of it, we have done a much better job, I would say, of controlling our destiny. Supply chains are starting to heal. That’s definitely helping. But I would say even the supply chain teams are delivering better productivity, better yield and efficiency. The restructuring that we announced in the second quarter is pretty much on track. You saw us delivering a little more than we thought we would in the second quarter on restructuring benefits. Third quarter, we have laid out a schedule that’s available in all our SEC documents that will show you Q3 and Q4 and that’s also pretty much on track. So the teams are making very good progress on the supply chain side, on the litigation side making progress on restructuring, which also allowed us to take our guidance up for the year on EPS, which is originally $8.50 to $9. We took it up to $8.60 to $9.10 for the year.
And then on the revenue side, I would just say, based on what we are seeing and most of these trends are moving sideways and China a little weaker. I would say we are still in the range that we told you during earnings, which is at the lower end of our guide that we had given you at the beginning of the year of 0% to minus 3% over organic growth. And included in that is our disposable respirators, which is also running at the lower end of the year-on-year decrease on the higher end, which is down $550 million.
When I come into the third quarter, I would say same trends, electronics, consumer weakness and China is a little weaker. When I put all that together, 2 months in looking at where we are, and of course, September is a very big month for us and the teams are very focused on delivering. I would say based on China and FX, we are a little down from where we said. We had said we will be approximately $8 billion. I would say we are somewhere in the $7.9 billion to $8 billion. So it’s nothing major from a reduction basis.
But the good news, as we have done all year is we have made sure that the teams are very focused on controlling cost at the same time, controlling supply chains where they can. So, the EPS guide still remains at the $2.25 to the $2.40 that we had said before. I would also say this is not just this year play, this is a long-term play for 3M and you look at the areas that we can invest in, whether it is climate tech, industrial package, industrial automation, next-generation electronics, AR/VR, sustainable packaging, all areas that we believe that material science and our increasing digital capabilities makes 3M full position to keep winning in those areas. All of them are GDP plus segments growth. We see a great opportunity to invest. We are going to keep investing in there. We have done it this year and we are going to keep doing all of them.
So in summary, Josh, when I look at it, I would say, huge thanks to my team. We had a plan coming in. We are executing to it. Those actions are getting translated into our results. You are seeing that in the first half. And as supply chains heel, as all these actions take momentum, I would tell you, you are going to see this momentum keep building in 2024 and ‘25 and beyond.
And I would also be remiss if I didn’t talk about cash. Again, the teams have done a really nice job in managing cash in the first half. We had a conversion ratio of 105%. That’s an area, as I’ve said before, working capital as supply chains heel can definitely be another catalyst for us continuing to deliver on cash. And I would say the model that we have, the cash flow that we generate, the proven access we have to capital markets allows us to do a lot in making sure we meet our capital allocation priorities, but also take care of the payments that are coming due because of the PFAS and Combat Arms settlement.
I would just summarize by saying this is our year of execution. I’ve said that before, I’ll say it now. The teams over the last 2, 3 years have done a really, really heavy lift. We went through the pandemic. We’ve had supply chain disruptions. We’ve had a lot of things that have happened and the team has hopefully weathered that storm and you are starting to see us execute and this is a year of execution and we just keep building on that.
So with that, I’ll turn it back to you.
Q – Joshua Pokrzywinski
Excellent. Super comprehensive overview there. A couple of things I want to kind of pick up on that you mentioned before we get into some other questions. I guess on the macro front, a lot of familiar end markets that you mentioned in China regionally, I think, is not a surprise, certainly something that we’ve heard elsewhere as well. How would you characterize sort of the core 3M industrial markets? I know there is some tangential exposure to things like auto and electronics barring there as well. But any sense of how the more industrial pieces of the business are going.
Listen, I would say, coming into the year, we talked about the softness in these industrial markets and we are seeing it. So I would go around the globe or businesses and say, Electronics, everybody knows is soft, and I would say consumer electronics is soft too. But flipside, we have great investments in the long-term that go that not only rely on consumer electronics. But as you think about the future, semiconductor fabs, next-generation electronics, AR/VR and of course, auto electrification where you think about how these cars are becoming computer on wheels are all great areas of opportunity that as those volumes come back up or as we build more cars, you’re going to see that growth.
When you go to consumer, the consumer has shifted spending from discretionary to staples and other experimental activities. As long as the economy starts coming back up, the brands that we are investing in, whether it’s our filtered brand or our damage free hanging, which many people know us command areas that we feel will keep growing. The age of the house in the U.S. my memory’s right is over 20 years. So there is a lot of demand for home improvement that as the consumer has the money, we’re going to see that growth, and we will continue to innovate in that space. Then I’ll come to Safety and Industrial, we have exposure again there in electronics, we have exposure in China, but areas that are coming up, industrial automation, using more and more adhesives for bonding from a structural perspective are all high-growth areas that we can play.
And as industrial activity is starting to come back up, not just in one region but multiple regions of the world, workers are concerned about their safety employers are concerned about the worker safety. And so therefore, that’s another area that we think about it and say, PSD division basically is well suited to continue to win in that space. That’s just current business. And then as you think about the areas I’ve talked about, whether it’s sustainable packaging, climate tech, these are large, large markets that are quite undefined and unstructured. And this is where 3M strength comes in. the ability to partner with customers, the ability to be a part of the early technical road map, just like we have seen in auto electrification are areas that we believe that material science plus digital can play a role. So I would say we love the healthcare business. But once that business is spun out too, the other three franchises that we have are all can take advantage of GDP-plus trends. And at the same time, we will continue to deliver on the margin and cash equation, which allows us to keep reinvesting for growth and keep driving that. So Bruce, anything else you would add there?
Yes. The other thing I’d say, Josh, relative to China specifically is watching export data. Export data has been somewhat soft. And our revenue is about 10%, 11% of overall company in China. About half of that goes into local domestic markets. Half of it ends up being go through export. So we’re watching both China for us through the first 6 months was down about 11% organically. And third quarter is the most difficult comp because we’re lapping into their reopening from a year ago following the lockdown in the second quarter. So we remain cautious relative to what we’re seeing there.
Got it. Maybe just to kind of tease out something you mentioned earlier, Monish, sort of the pro forma exposure here once the healthcare separation is done. A little under half of the business is going to be electronics, auto and I guess, consumer. Is that a mix you’re comfortable with? Is anything that you can generalize about those businesses, either collectively or individually about things like speed of pricing, inventory terms, R&D intensity. I think with that much concentration, did the characteristics change relative to what we’ve come to expect out of 3M?
So I would – listen, when I said it before, I’ll say these three franchises are all geared to take part in segments that we believe are going to be GDP plus areas. At the same time, we had to execute and make sure that we are also being active in portfolio management that as we start seeing slower growth, how do we move away to higher growth segments. And some of them I talked about auto electrification. I would say electrification is here to say, say, sustainability easier to stay. That business is a $600 million business already that grew 30% last year. So it’s an area that we can play. I talked about climate tech. I’ve talked about damage free hanging, home filters, bonding, personal safety. I would say industrial automation, Josh, is another area that when we think about the knowledge we have on material science, when you start marrying that with robots, and we’ve got a few partnerships going. That’s another area that we believe in the long-term plays itself out. So we are pleased with the franchises we have. There is a lot of synergy between these three businesses. For example, you asked the question on R&D, we invest 5% to 6% of our revenue in R&D. Some of it goes – it’s not 5% or 6% peanut butter spread across all these businesses. Consumer, for example, spends less than 5% to 6%. But what they take advantage is some of the industrial applications that we create, they use it to take it to the consumer market.
healthcare has been higher than 5% to 6% because that industry demands us to be higher than 5% to 6%. So we are, I would say, pretty thoughtful in capital allocation, making sure that the R&D that we give that we spend is actually giving us a return. Many of the times, people say, but I don’t see that all the time in your growth numbers. So where is it? Well, you see it in multiple places. You see it in pricing, the value that we create for our customers allows us to get the price. You see it in margin because the new products usually are margin accretive, and it’s helpful. And of course, you see it in volume as volume comes through. But you also see it in applications. So when 3M products are spec-ed in and 70% of our business is either going to be designed in, inspecting or regulated. And our engineering teams are working very closely with our customers to make sure that we are inspecting or designed it into their product. And all of that helps. So I would say, put all that together.
Long-term, we see good franchise. But I would also tell you, we will always keep looking at portfolio. We have to keep looking. You have to move from slower-growth markets to higher-growth markets. And my general philosophy has been, if there is a market and we have a right to win, we will put our money to work there.
And I guess in that same line of thinking, what are the new – or I guess as the portfolio evolves, what are the new defensive areas? Healthcare sort of filled that role? Obviously, now overly defense is still a decent grower, but it should be fairly consistent. Are there areas that you would deem sort of the defensive areas or areas that you want to invest in the capture sort of that historical 3M kind of more consistent GDP-ish, GDP plus-ish type well volatility growth?
So I’ll start, and I’ll have Bruce add on. I would say, back to the point I made, 70% of our revenue is going to be designed inspecting or in a regulated industry. And so that itself is defense number one. I would say we need to continue to invest in areas which are GDP plus. So industrial automation, auto electrification, I would say, is a trend that will continue home safety or personal safeties and other trends. And then home improvement could be a trend. It depends on the consumer, whether they spend or not. But as long as the age of these homes increase, that’s also defensive to some extent. But you could argue consumer exposure always could have its ups and downs. I would say electronics, Josh, is another area. When I think about where the world is moving with electronics. Whether you think about semiconductor fabs, you think about these cars that are becoming computers on wheels where our display technologies or human machine interface, is areas that we can win in. It’s an area that we have started winning in auto electrification. And that’s agnostic to whether it’s an internal combustion engine, whether it’s an electrified car. It’s another area that as long as people are commuting, you’re going to have the need for cars and you’re going to have us grow there. So all of these, as I look at it and say these are opportunities that are defensive, there are areas that are GDP plus growth we can play in. And then, of course, the new emerging areas like climate tech, that I’ve talked about in industrial automation that we would invest in, which further trends that I think are going to continue. So anything else you would add, Bruce?
Yes. To me, Josh, we have platform businesses that go into many, many end markets, whether it’s braces, adhesives, tapes, the film business that Monish talked about. So while we may start in one market, eventually, like our film business, everybody focused on depression consumer electronics, we are seeing opportunities open up in automotive in AR/VR. So, to me, with the diversity of the portfolio and the diversity of our technology base, we develop a technology for one end market, but eventually, it finds it someplace else. So, when you saw that like N95 respirators before the pandemic, the vast majority of our product was going into industrial manufacturing. Obviously, in the midst of the pandemic, a lot of our respirators found their way into the healthcare channel. So, I think it’s that diversity of the portfolio base that lends itself to some defensiveness, if you will.
That’s not end market, more about application.
Understood. I would like to pivot over to margins. And I guess, 2Q specifically was just very impressive on the margin front and a lot of moving pieces, obviously, with restructuring in some of the end markets, but I guess where were you surprised?
So, I wouldn’t say surprised as much as a huge thanks to my team for continuing to drive and making sure we have taken care of customers, making sure that the restructuring benefits hit and as supply chain started healing, we took advantage of it. So, my view is it was good performance from an operating perspective that delivered those margins. Revenue pretty much came into where we said revenue was going to come in at. We came in higher end of our range on 2Q, partly driven by FX, but partly driven by the fact that we made sure we took care of our customers. So, the teams were able to dial in revenue better, the use of data and data analytics helps us do better planning, helps us do more efficient production runs. Raw materials are flowing better. They are not 100% there than they used to be during the pandemic, and that allowed us to get the efficiency, too. And as I see 3Q, I would say, as these chains, supply chains keep healing, you can see the momentum. As these restructuring benefits take hold, you are going to see that margin rate continue to grow. I would tell you on inflation, which may be on many people’s mind, I would say we are in a disinflation environment, not a deflationary environment. You saw the CPI data that came out today too, inflation is still sticky, for us, where we are seeing it being sticky is labor cost is still quite sticky when we see from the supplier. So, the teams know how to do that. As you know, we are managing it through price where we need to and then we have got dual sourcing and we have got a lot of other opportunities. Logistics costs, you have seen it come down. You can see that in our P&L too. So, that was another thing in 2Q is as logistics costs have come down. We don’t have to fly as many planes as we were flying to deliver to our customers also helps.
Understood. On the restructuring front, 3M has done a lot more restructuring I think most industrial companies the last few years. Obviously, a lot of thing is going on, but how much of that would you say is sort of a demand volatility response to levels of demand versus transformation and you are reaching milestones where maybe you can attack layers of costs because of some of the digital tools and other efficiencies we have been locked?
I would say it’s both, Josh. I would say over the last few years, prior to my time, too, the company had transformed itself into four business units, and then supply chain went horizontal across. The reason they did that was they said this is the only way we can scale of 3M, and they were right in that, but then the pandemic hit, so we couldn’t go through all the changes we wanted to make. In the same time, we have continued to evolve our digital capabilities. We have continued to understand better the markets and the reaction, better how customers want us to interact. And so and we started predicting better. So, coming into 2024, we said we are seeing a slow growth environment. We need to make sure we are agile versus being rosy about what an environment could be, but then it’s too late to adjust for production. So, the teams have got more agile. We did announce a restructuring early 2023 of taking our 2,500 jobs in our factories, mainly driven by the fact that we were seeing lower volume come in, so that was one. Then as we have gone through it and Mike had said that during earnings, we are relooking at everything. So, the spin out of healthcare allowed us to completely relook at our everything in our business because every time you have such a big event, it gives you an opportunity to really go deep and say, what else should be doing, not doing. We decided that we are going to reduce the size of the corporate center or structure. So, the teams went through that restructuring, as a part of that, we said, let’s reduce the structure and you are seeing those savings start coming through. We also said we got to simplify our supply chains. The world has evolved. We are starting to see healing of supply chain. The complexity we had, we don’t need to have post pandemic. So, we have done that. We also said we got to get closer to our customers. And so we took out some layers in some of the BG. So, a lot of management layers were taken out because we have said that’s where the efficiency sometimes the largeness of a company slows down decision-making and we said, let us really look at management layers. We also said, let’s relook at our go-to-market model in many countries. So, in 30 countries, we have said we are going to move from a in local country presence with our people to move into an export model, but still using local distribution, but that allows you to take structure of. So, I would say it’s both. We have continued to invest in digital, as you are seeing in the data analytics that’s allowing us. But our success is going to be finishing out that program, taking advantage of a healing supply chain, at some point, deflation comes capturing that deflation while investing so that we can get the growth and Bruce reminds everyone a lot, volume does give us the best leverage. So, we do have to get the volume. And our view is, once this year plays itself out. I think you are still in a slow growth environment in the long run. I don’t think you are going to see like a rocket ship increase in 2024. And I think most companies would tell you the same that you are going to see us grow. GDP, I think next year is predicted like 2.5% to 3% IPIs in that same range. So, I think we will see where it goes. But we – I think we have great opportunities. We can’t grow and the momentum is there. Bruce, anything you would add?
No, I think as you think about the 8,500 jobs that were taken, we are going after this year, Josh, 25,000 is in regards to what we are seeing in end markets. The other 6,000 is a structural reduction in our cost structure.
Got it. That’s helpful. That’s good context. So, transformation has been going on for a while now. And you mentioned there are some changes that have been put in place before, before you stepped in, Monish, what inning are we at? I mean, obviously, it’s a journey, so you would never say you are done. But when does the heavy lifting wind down? I guess is this current restructuring phase, kind of one of the bigger last phases that we should expect?
So again, everything depends on what markets turned out to be and where we decide to invest. But I would say we are decisively taking action where we felt we needed to take the action both on predicting what volume is going to be, but at the same time, doing the transformation that Bruce mentioned. The benefit of this is somewhere between $700 million to $900 million once all these actions are done. It’s going to cost us $700 million to $900 million to get those done. But in the long run, that becomes sustainable margin improvement. Now, our hope is we take some of that savings and we continue to drive it in these areas that I have talked about of new investment opportunities that allows 3M to keep growing in the future. So, the actions that we are taking set us up for the long-term well. At the end, we are always going to remain agile. I think the teams learned how to be agile, better prediction using data, data analytics and as digital continues to take hold, you are going to find us continuing to lean in to do what we need to do to get a good return.
Excellent. I want to spend our remaining time here. We don’t have much left, but I do want to pivot over to some of the liability comments you made good helpful color upfront there. So, maybe not a ton to go over, but it sounds like we should be keeping our eyes open for December 11th, just to see how the opt-in, opt-out goes for the PFAS settlement. I guess stepping back outside of public water suppliers, PFAS as a few other elements. Maybe a little bit more fragmented than the PWS piece. But is there an opportunity to handle those and mask the same way? It might be multiple stages, but is that something that we could expect at some point in time, or does this have a longer tail?
Yes. First, actually, I would just start by saying the company has done a good job of managing PFAS. And one of the settlement is a step in it. This was the company that decided to get out of PFO and PFOS in 2001 voluntarily. We have also invested a lot of money in state-of-the-art water filtration equipment in our facilities. We also announced the exit of PFAS by 2025, of manufacturer PFAS and trying to get – find alternates for our customers and finding alternatives in our products that move our portfolio from being reliant on a PFAS sub-product. And then this was the – another piece and that whole transition or management of PFAS. I would say, Josh, I would never say no, but I just look at where the portfolio was from a litigation maturity perspective, PWS was much closer to getting a settlement done. I think some of the other things will play itself out over time, whether it is the AG settlements or personal injury. I think it’s going to take time to play itself out. But again, at the end of the day, if there is a need to do it, we will do it, if there is a need for us to defend ourselves in court from a litigation strategy perspective, we will. So, it depends on situation-by-situation, and we will take it from there. So, based on what I see right now, it’s been good progress on this front, and we have tried to give you as much certainty and clarity. I would also encourage all of you, please, if you are not ready to make sure you are going through all our SEC documents that we filed quarterly, we are very transparent with all the situations of what the cases are, where they are, etcetera. And then that will give you also an update on where this journey goes.
Understood. Helpful color. Great to see you both as always. Appreciate the time.
Thanks for having us.
Thank you very much.