McCormick reports fiscal third quarter profit

Driven by solid sales, improving margins and another quarterly profit, McCormick & Co. has raised its earnings guidance for the year.

The Sparks-based spice maker announced Thursday that its yearly outlook will be a range of $2.67 per share to $2.71 per share, up from a previous guidance of $2.49 per share to $2.54 per share.

The company reported a 36 percent increase in fiscal third-quarter profit. Net income for three months ending Aug. 31 was $102.4 million, or 76 cents per share, compared with $75.1 million, or 57 cents per share, in the corresponding period last year.

Despite the shaky economy, McCormick has been able to control its costs and boost sales by introducing new products and diversifying its distribution channels, said Chairman and Chief Executive Alan D. Wilson in an interview.

"We're very happy where we are so far this year," Wilson said. "The fourth quarter is our biggest quarter of the year, and we're looking forward to completing a strong year."

Cost-savings measures are expected to total more than $45 million this year, McCormick executives said.

Sales rose to $794.6 million in the quarter, from $791.7 million a year ago. New products introduced this year, such as Recipe Inspirations, a cooking kit that come with a recipe and premeasured spice packets, drove sales, the company said.

To add to its Recipe Inspirations line, McCormick will introduce early next year six new "World Flavors" recipe kits like Tuscan Chicken Stew and Asian Sesame Salmon.

During the third quarter, McCormick announced it will acquire a 26 percent stake in an Indian spice and seasoning business, making inroads in the world's biggest consumer markets for spices. The $35 million deal with Eastern Condiments Private Limited is on track to close in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Earlier this month, McCormick agreed to form a joint venture with Yildiz Holding, a food manufacturer in Turkey, to create spices, herbs and seasoning products to sell to consumers in that country.

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