Diversified U.S. manufacturer 3M Co reported higher-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday, lifted by strong sales of products to the electronics industry.

But the results, which were only slightly higher than Wall Street analysts predicted, appeared to disappoint investors wowed by recent earnings blowouts from other industrial names including DuPont and General Electric Co , sending 3M's shares lower in early trading.

They beat by a penny, which isn't overwhelming, said Oliver Pursche, the co-portfolio manager of the GMG Defensive Beta Fund .

If you're an investor and you own this stock, you're happy with the results and you have no reason to want to sell. That said, if you have cash in hand and you're looking for a growth oriented company, there are -- in the short term -- alternatives that may seem more attractive.

3M, which makes a variety of office, medical and industrial products, posted a fourth-quarter profit of $928 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with $935 million, or $1.30 a share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 9.6 percent to $6.7 billion, lifted by especially strong growth in Asia and Latin America.

Analysts, on average, had expected St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M to report a profit of $1.27 a share on sales of $6.6 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company raised its forecast for 2011 earnings to a range of $5.95 to $6.20 a share, up from a previous forecast of $5.90 to $6.10 and from $5.63 a share in 2010.

3M posted double-digit percentage sales increases in several businesses, including a 20.3 percent jump in sales of products to the electronics industry and a 10.4 percent rise in sales of products to the automotive and aerospace industries.

The company, whose sales of healthcare products like respirators and surgical masks jumped last year as a result of the H1N1 scare, said those sales were up just 5.9 percent during the fourth quarter, lifted largely by a recent acquisition.

The company also noted that sales of optical films used to brighten LCD TVs continued to moderate during the quarter.

3M shares fell 1.8 percent to $88.73 in premarket trade.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman)