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3M (MMM) & Eckhart Introduce 3M Automated Taping System

3M Company MMM together with Eckhart recently unveiled the 3M Automated Taping System (ATS) — a joint effort by both the companies to develop a robot-based automated tape application system.

Commercially available, the automated solution delivers real value to 3M Attachment Tape customers, offering a simple, flexible and cost-effective solution. 3M ATS solution uses collaborative robot technology to automate the manual processes that involve 3M Attachment Tapes. Leveraging the industry standard robotic components, the automated solution ensures optimization of first-time quality, productivity and ergonomic safety along with reduction of the factory footprint requirement to apply tape.

Both the companies are optimistic about the prospects of the automated solution in the automotive and industrial industry, particularly in areas like creation of extended liner tabs, application of adhesion promoters and positioning cut-to-length tape or die cuts on to components.

Our Take

3M intends to become more competent on the back of product-portfolio solidification. In this regard, the company successfully rolled out its surgical skin prep solution — 3M SoluPrep Film-Forming Sterile Surgical Solution — in October 2018 to help clinicians fight surgical site infection diseases. Also, recently, the company teamed up with ON Semiconductor Corporation ON to develop advanced roadway safety solutions for vehicles designed with automated driving features.

Additionally, the company believes that its ongoing portfolio restructuring moves will fortify its brand status. In sync with this strategy, the company divested almost all its communication markets businesses in June 2018.

However, rising cost of sales has been a major cause of concern for 3M over the last few quarters. On a year-over-year basis, the company's cost of sales escalated 5.1% and 2.5% in the second quarter and third quarter of 2018, respectively. Inflation in the prices of raw materials had primarily resulted in the increase. Rising cost, if not checked, will weigh on the company's profitability, going forward.

3M currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). In the past three months, the company has lost 6.9%, narrower than the industry’s decline of 12.4%.

Stocks to Consider

A couple of better-ranked stocks in the same space are Hitachi Ltd. HTHIY and Carlisle Companies Incorporated CSL. While Hitachi sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Carlisle carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Hitachi delivered average earnings surprise of 55.51% in the trailing four quarters.

Carlisle pulled off average positive earnings surprise of 11.90% in the trailing four quarters.

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