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Coronavirus helps Scotch Tape maker rack up mega millions from face mask sales

Brian Sozzi

The coronavirus face mask business has been a good one for industrial giant 3M (MMM).

3M CEO Mike Roman told investors at the JPMorgan Industrial Conference (via remote) sales of face masks could approach $250 million through the lifecycle of dealing with the coronavirus. That would be comparable to the $300 million or so sales lift 3M saw during the SARS outbreak several years ago, noted Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch.

3M sells a host of different face masks ranging from simple disposable ones to reusable masks made from plastic and rubber.

Roman added the company has been ramping up face mask production since January and that demand continues to outpace supply. 3M has not raised prices on masks in spite of the demand surge, he said.

3M N95 particulate filtering face mask are seen at a store in East Palo Alto, California, United States on January 26, 2020. There are now 8,235 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 171 death and 143 recovered. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But even in the face of strong mask sales, it appears to not be enough to offset weakness elsewhere in 3M’s sprawling enterprise.

“Overall, this slight positive [mask sales] would be superseded by negative drag in other areas. To the point, Roman indicated that favorable demand impact from COVID-19 is adding ~1% to top line growth (+$75-80mm), while the net impact on the other businesses is dragging growth negatively this Q,” said Inch in a flash note to clients following the presentation. “Overall, the company is maintaining its flat to +2% core growth guide for 2020.”

3M’s stock rose slightly on Roman’s comments, but is down 30% over the past year.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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