Industrial giant 3M (NYSE: MMM) will release its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 26. Unfortunately, 3M's management is unlikely to have a lot of great news for investors regarding near-term conditions, but what about the long term? The case for buying 3M rests on the idea that its substantial free cash flow (FCF) generation will give management the time and firepower to turn around some patchy performance in recent years.
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