McCormick Q3 Profit Up Thanks to Joint Ventures

Spice maker McCormick & Co. Inc. (MCK) Wednesday said its quarterly profit rose 3.8 percent as improved income from joint ventures helped offset higher interest rates and lower demand from industrial customers.

Profit for the third quarter was $47.97 million, or 35 cents a share, compared with $46.2 million, or 33 cents a year earlier.

Analysts on average forecast 34 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales for the quarter ended Aug. 31 rose 1.5 percent, to $623 million.

"During the third quarter, we achieved higher profits with increased sales and income from our consumer business, the benefit of our cost savings program and improved income from joint ventures," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Lawless, in a statement. "As expected, sales to industrial customers were weak this quarter. We were also affected by higher interest rates and an increase in our tax rate."

Looking ahead the company said it still sees 2005 earnings of $1.58 to $1.62 per share. Analysts forecast the company would earn $1.59 a share in 2005, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company on Sept. 6 cut its full-year earnings forecast, saying that its industrial business, which sells seasonings, spices, condiments and extracts to food processors, restaurants and other large customers, has suffered from sluggish demand and stepped up competition from rivals that has pressured selling prices.

It added that Hurricane Katrina (search), which slammed the Gulf Coast (search) in late August, had hurt sales. The stock fell about 12 percent the day of the warning.

Shares were up $1.10 to $32.10 on Wednesday.