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McCormick shares fall as earnings forecast disappoints

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Spicemaker McCormick & Co.'s stock price swooned by more than $4 a share Thursday after the company's earnings forecast for the year fell short of what Wall Street analysts anticipated.

The Sparks-based company said Thursday that earnings per share in 2013 will likely range from $3.15 to $3.23 — an increase from last year, but less than the $3.35 per share anticipated by analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research.

McCormick said its earnings-per-share expectations would have been 23 cents higher for the year if not for an increase in retirement expenses and a higher tax rate. The company said it benefited last year from foreign tax credits in the U.S.

McCormick's stock price fell $4.22 a share to $62.37 Thursday. That erased only part of the stock's rise in the last 12 months — the price per share was about $51 a year ago.

The company also said Thursday that it earned 407.8 million in its 2012 fiscal year — which ended in November — up 9 percent compared with the previous year. Revenue topped $4 billion for the first time, an increase of 8.6 percent.

CEO Alan D. Wilson told analysts Thursday that the company launched more than 250 products last year and increased sales in emerging markets, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the conference call.

Wilson also offered details on Hurricane Sandy's ripple effect, saying the late October storm had a "limited impact" on Northeast sales but disrupted suppliers, "which created product shortages during our critical holiday selling period." The company also lost production time at Maryland facilities.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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