Shares of spice and flavorings specialist McCormick (NYSE:MKC) trailed the market last month, losing 11% compared to a 8% spike in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The decline only erased part of investors' recent gains with this stock, which has beaten the market over the last one-year, three-year, and five-year time periods.
January's slump came in the wake of the company's fourth-quarter earnings report. While hitting management's broader targets for 2018, McCormick revealed a growth slowdown in the year's final months while projecting weaker sales gains in the year ahead.
Very little about the broader investment narrative has changed with this earnings report. McCormick continues to outgrow the sluggish consumer goods industry thanks to its leading collection of brands. Its profitability is rising, meanwhile, as it incorporates the high-margin French's and Frank's condiments it recently acquired. McCormick's annual cash flow is approaching a record $1 billion, much of which it can direct toward paying down the new debt it took on with that massive acquisition.
Management aims to have debt back down to target levels by 2020, at which point it can shop for new brands to buy and scale share repurchase spending higher. In the meantime, investors who were watching this stock from the sidelines might consider buying after the recent price decline.