With its recent registration of 52 new patents, 3M Company (MMM) marked an innovation milestone, taking the company’s global patent count past the 100,000 mark.
The multinational powerhouse boasts of a 50,000 deep product line ranging from medical adhesives to reflective traffic signs to films that enhance liquid crystal displays. It also has 22,800 registered patents.
The Maplewood-based company with global operations invests around 6% of its annual revenues in research and development, aggregating around $7.6 billion over the last five years. 3M has created an impeccable reputation in innovation, and its resolute commitment toward the same allows it to leverage its competencies in order to meet the client needs.
3M was granted its first patent in 1924. The company registers about 3,000 patents annually across the world, with over 500 of them granted in the U.S. Its innovations are spread across a broad spectrum of industries, with applications in consumer electronics to reflective traffic signs and health care adhesives to sterilization products
3M attributes its success to its scientists. In 1948, 3M launched an employee program known as “15 percent time,” wherein employees are permitted to devote a part of their paid time to follow their instincts and pursue creative ideas that might have gotten buried under routine work. Apparently seeming like an employee benefit, in reality it has produced some of the company’s most successful products.
Technology stalwarts such as Google Inc. (GOOG) and Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) have reportedly emulated 3M’s expensive program and offered employees personal creative time.
Encouraging a corporate culture of creative competitiveness, to this day, 3M’s ethos remains “Innovate or Die.”
3M currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock worth considering in the diversified operations industry is Icahn Enterprises, L.P. (IEP), sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).