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On the Call: 3M CEO Inge Thulin

The Associated Press

3M Co.'s previous CEO George Buckley had set a goal that its sales would grow 7 percent to 8 percent a year, not counting acquisitions. That's a high mark that the company hasn't hit yet. The company reported Tuesday that U.S. sales grew 6.3 percent during the first quarter and rose 8.4 percent in Latin America and Canada. Sales were weaker elsewhere.

New CEO Inge Thulin, who ascended to the post Feb. 24, was asked during a conference call with analysts whether he shares that goal.

QUESTION: And then very specifically how you're feeling about that 7 percent to 8 percent growth target?

RESPONSE: First of all, my target and objective and focus is to deliver the plan for 2012. I was part of the team to build the plan here, and that's important work. Just as you know, it's a volatile time, and we are absolutely focused to make sure that we deliver what we have promised you for this year. So that's initially what's important to us. ...

This is an organization that is responding very well to stretch targets. And I think there (are) more elements to the business, in a holistic way, than just top-line growth. At least, for me, two other very important margins (are) margins and return on investment capital. So we are focusing on that as well.

So I would say that the 7 percent to 8 percent is a long-term target for 3M, and something that the organization really is responding very well to. ... We're not at 7 percent to 8 percent as of yet, as we know, but it's a long-term target for us, and our organization, whatever we put out in terms of really tough stretch targets, (is) responding very well.