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3M has more N95 face-mask orders than it can handle

March 12, 2020, 10:05 AM UTC

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Good morning.

3M CEO Mike Roman visited Fortune’s offices yesterday. You may know 3M as the maker of ubiquitous Post-it notes, but this 117-year-old company—it is #95 on the Fortune 500 list—sells $33 billion a year in a wide array of products to health care companies, car companies, technology companies and more. Based in St Paul, it is an innovation machine, spending $6 billion a year on R&D, and earning 30% of its revenue from products introduced in the last five years. Says Roman: “You are always within 10 feet of a 3M product.”

These days, the product getting the most attention is the N95 face mask, in hot demand because of the coronavirus. Roman says the company made a decision after the SARS breakout to create “surge” capacity for the masks, and has been able to almost double its production in recent months. But that’s still not enough. “We have more orders than we can handle,” he says. So the company has had to ration, giving top priority to health care providers.

Roman is one of the growing list of CEOs who says using science to address climate change is one of his company’s core goals. “Sustainability is at the heart of 3M,” he says, and has been since at least 2011, when it put out its first sustainability report. (You can access that report here.) Roman says the demand for action from employees, customers and investors is steadily growing, and he expects the trend to continue.

More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Travel ban

President Trump last night made an Oval Office address in which he announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe, in order to combat the "foreign" coronavirus. His address contained several points that the White House had to subsequently negate: he said the ban would apply to cargo, but it won't; he said it would apply to people coming from Europe except the U.K., but in fact it only applies to people coming from the Schengen free-movement area, so Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria are exempted too. American residents and their immediate family are also exempted, which was not at all clear from the speech. Crucially, Trump's speech made no mention of plans to increase coronavirus testing capacity in the U.S. Fortune

Markets tank

The markets already plummeted yesterday before Trump's address, with what is now officially a pandemic pushing the Dow into bear territory after an 11-year bull run. But now we're in freefall. Asian markets sank heavily today (Nikkei down 4.4%, ASX 200 7.4%) and Europe is a sea of red too, with the Stoxx 600 down 5.5%—additional factors there likely include Italy's closure of everything but drugstores and food markets, and the mass closure of schools in Poland and Denmark. U.S. futures suggest an opening drop of around 5%. Fortune

Hanks and NBA

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have coronavirus infections, the actor has revealed from Australia, where he has been doing pre-production work on Baz Luhrmann's Elvis film (Hanks is playing Colonel Tom Parker). Meanwhile, the NBA has abruptly suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive. CNN

Icahn and Occidental

Carl Icahn now owns almost 10% of Occidental Petroleum, after buying up more shares of the embattled producer as its price plummets. The activist investor has long been criticizing Occidental's Anadarko acquisition and trying to push out the entire board, including CEO Vicki Hollub. Wall Street Journal

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Indian visas

It's not just the U.S. putting up hefty travel restrictions. India has now suspended almost all travel visas until mid-April. As of tomorrow, it will also quarantine everyone—Indian nationals included—who come in from or have recently visited China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany. CNBC

Weinstein sentence

The rapist Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years behind bars for his crimes. The former movie producer raped aspiring actress Jessica Mann and sexually assaulted production assistant Mimi Haley. Weinstein remains without contrition, claiming the #MeToo movement has removed due process for "thousands of men", and he did not have "great power" to abuse in the film industry. NBC News

Bitcoin fall

You know how Bitcoin fans have regularly touted it as a safe-haven asset when the going gets tough. Well, the going's tougher than tough… and Bitcoin's value has plummeted past the $7,500 mark. Turns out investors see it as a risky asset after all. Bloomberg

SoftBank pushback

A growing number of Silicon Valley founders and investors are reportedly turning on Japan's SoftBank, decrying its $100 billion Vision Fund as a "disaster" for the scene. Part of this appears to be protectionism, but many are worried about SoftBank's interactions with founders and the layoffs it has instituted at companies it has backed. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.