updated 10/18/2004 9:27:04 AM ET 2004-10-18T13:27:04

3M Co. reported a 17-percent increase in third-quarter profits on Monday, but the maker of Post-it notes and Scotch tape missed analyst expectations and said full-year earnings would fall slightly below forecasts, too.

The company earned $775 million, or 97 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $663 million, or 83 cents a share, a year earlier. The results met 3M's forecast in July, but missed by a penny the estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Sales rose 7.6 percent to $4.97 billion _ the low end of analyst estimates _ from $4.62 billion during the same quarter last year.

"We are optimistic about the strength of our diverse business and technology portfolio, but remain cautious on the global economy," said chairman and chief executive W. James McNerney.

The company's display and graphics business, which includes optical films for LCD screens, continued to be its most profitable, with operating income of $286 million, up 14 percent from $251 million during the same period last year. But that same division grew 49 percent in the second quarter.

The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 90 or 91 cents per share, and full-year earnings of $3.74 to $3.75 per share. Analysts were expecting 92 cents per share for the fourth quarter and $3.77 per share for the year.

For the first three quarters of the year, profits were $2.27 billion, or $2.84 per share, up 27 percent from $1.78 billion, or $2.25 per share, during the same period last year. Sales rose 10 percent to $14.92 billion, from $13.51 billion a year ago.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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