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McCormick's 'Buzz and Bailey Show' enters final act


After three years of the "Buzz and Bailey Show," the top executives of McCormick & Co. Inc. are beginning to think about the next act.

Yesterday, company President Bailey A. Thomas told shareholders to expect a number of management changes during the coming months as the next generation of executives is groomed to take over the Hunt Valley-based spice manufacturer.

"The truth is that some of our senior management is getting older," Thomas said at the meeting at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. "In fact, four of the inside members of our board of directors are age 60 or older, which means that we can expect a number of changes in our senior management during the next few years."

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles P. "Buzz" McCormick Jr. is two years away from the company's mandatory retirement age of 65. Thomas, who is 59, will succeed him, but beyond that, the line of succession has not been decided, McCormick said.

Thomas said the company has begun to move its top managers to give them different experiences and prepare one of them to succeed him as president. "This means we will make lateral transfers and that we will change some executives from one unit to another unit to give them the broader exposure they need," Thomas said. "In this development process, we will seek to have more than one candidate available for key positions."

Thomas said the changes are not "a game of musical chairs. Instead, we are planning for the flexibility we feel we need to have as we proceed through the 1990s."

The first of the changes was announced a few weeks ago. H. Eugene Blattman, who had been serving as head of the Gilroy Food Operations on the West Coast, was named vice president of the Flavor and Agribusiness Group. Blattman also was elected to the board of directors yesterday.

Van Tunstall, director of operations for Gilroy Foods, is to succeed Blattman as president.

In other moves, Joseph A. "Al" Anderson has been given additional responsibilities as head of Golden West Foods; Robert Lawless, chairman of McCormick Canada, has been given the extra duties as vice president and deputy director of the International Group; Robert Davey, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been named president and chief operating officer of McCormick Canada Inc.; and Robert Schroeder, head of Tubed Products, has been named vice president of Packaging.

Thomas said he believes that the younger managers have "outstanding talent" to carry on the company's success. Even so, the "Buzz and Bailey Show" will be a hard act to follow.

The duo sold McCormick Properties several years ago and re-focused McCormick on the foods business. The strategy has paid off. Earnings per share from continuing operations has tripled; return on equity -- excluding the gain on sale of real vTC estate -- increased from 11.1 percent in 1987 to 20.4 percent in 1990; quarterly cash dividends increased six times during the period; and the company's stock price has more than tripled.

The company posted sales records sales in the last three years and appears to be on the way to a fourth. First-quarter results reported earlier this week showed sales up 8 percent and earnings up 53.5 percent from the same period last year.

Yesterday, the board declared a quarterly dividend of 13 cents a share payable April 12 to shareholders of record April 3.

James J. Harrison Jr., chief financial officer, said the company still has room to grow by finding new distribution outlets in the United States and expanding its international operations. The company's objective is to increase per-share earnings 15 percent annually.

"We believe our growth objective is aggressive in today's environment and, if achieved, represents gains over and above what will be realized by most food companies and most industries in general," Harrison said.

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