3M Ramps Up Face Mask Production on White House Order, Stock Slips

The company will work with FEMA to prioritize mask orders

by Laura McCandless

Published on Apr 3, 2020 at 10:59 AM
Updated on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:38 PM

3M Co (NYSE: MMM) is down 1.3% to trade at $136.36 this morning, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Twitter (TWTR) last night that he was invoking the the Defense Production Act as a way of getting the company to produce more N-95 face masks. In response, the household goods manufacturer said it would increase the production of respirators and import more face masks to the U.S. in order to ease the coronavirus-related shortage, adding that it will work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prioritize orders for the masks. 

MMM has been chopping lower since late-January. And while the equity has distanced itself from its March 23 six-year lows, pressure from the 20-day moving average, paired with the $140 region, appear to be keeping a cap on a potential breakout. Year-to-date, 3M is down 23%. 

The sentiment surrounding MMM is lukewarm, with 10 out of 11 analysts in coverage sporting a "hold" rating. This is echoed by the 12-month consensus target price of $150.93, which is a slim 9.4% premium to current levels. 

The options pits are singing a different tune, however. At the International Securites Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) MMM sports a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 6.53. This ratio sits higher than all but 1% of earnings from the past year, suggesting long calls have rarely been more popular in the last 12 months. 

Short interest, meanwhile, is in decline, down 12.2% in the last two reporting periods. The 8.16 million shares sold short make up only 1.4% of the stock's available float, and would take a little over two days to cover at MMM's average pace of trading. 

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