Investor Alert

April 5, 2020, 10:14 a.m. EDT

3M hits back at Trump, says ceasing exports of N95 masks will have ‘opposite’ effect, humanitarian consequences

Company says to stop exporting face masks would lead to retaliation and a decrease in supply; one expert says lack of raw materials is the real issue

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By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch

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3M’s stock /zigman2/quotes/205029460/composite MMM +0.65%  fell 3.0% to close at $133.79, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.83%  fell 361 points, or 1.7%. Year to date, 3M shares have shed 24.2% while the Dow has dropped 26.2%.

Despite the boost in production in masks, from 3M and others, there is still expected to be an alarming shortfall. As reported in The Wall Street Journal , 3M and a half-dozen smaller competitors were producing about 50 million N95 masks in the U.S. each month, compared with the Department of Health and Human Services’ estimate in March that U.S. health-care workers would need 300 million masks.

See related : Ford partners with GE, 3M to build ventilators, COVID-19 protective equipment.

Click to Play

New England Patriots' Plane Flies 1.2 Million Masks from China to U.S.

The Massachusetts governor struck a deal for N95 masks from China, but he needed a way to transport them. The New England Patriots plane ended up making the delivery. Photo: New England Patriots

And demand for face masks are likely to increase substantially after Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appear to be close to recommending the general public wear face masks.

Don’t miss : Anthony Fauci: White House Coronavirus Task Force is giving ‘serious consideration’ to suggesting Americans wear face masks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio advised New York City residents to cover their faces before leaving their homes, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it “couldn’t hurt” to wear homemade face masks to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker worked out a deal with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to fly 1.2 million N95 masks from China to the U.S., with 300,000 of that supply going to New York. Read the WSJ story of the details of the flight on the Patriots’ team plane .

Last month, Cuomo had called on local fashion designers to help produce PPE, including face masks and hospital gowns, and they listened, with many designers, including New York’s Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung and Rachel Comey, among others, announcing plans to join the fight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more in Barron’s.

The supply of masks isn’t the only issue.

On Friday, 3M said it will continue to fight against price gouging and the unauthorized reselling of its masks. “This activity is unethical and illegal,” 3M said. “We are working with the U.S. Attorney General and attorneys general of every state, making it clear that 3M has not and will not raise prices for respirators and offering our assistance in the fight.”

Don’t miss : Biggest maker of medical face masks in the U.S. is warning of an outbreak...of fraud.

$ 170.22
+1.10 +0.65%
Volume: 2.67M
Jan. 20, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$97.55 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : Dow Jones Global
+257.86 +0.83%
Volume: 384.98M
Jan. 20, 2021 4:58p

Tomi Kilgore is MarketWatch's deputy investing and corporate news editor and is based in New York. You can follow him on Twitter @TomiKilgore.

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