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Here’s Why McCormick Shareholders Are Happy This Week

By Motley Fool Staff – Apr 4, 2019 at 12:15AM

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Three months ago, short-term thinking sent shares lower. Now, the long-term view is upbeat again.

McCormick (MKC -1.26%) dominates the spice business, which on one hand gives it a lot of muscle, but on the other hand can make eye-popping growth numbers much harder to come by. Nonetheless, after factoring out foreign currency effects and other issues, the company's adjusted numbers for the first quarter were to Wall Street's taste.

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill and Fool senior analysts Aaron Bush, Ron Gross, and Jason Moser -- who is, full disclosure, a shareholder and big fan of the company -- talk about how the market's view of the company has shifted in recent months, discuss its progress on integrating its RB Foods acquisition -- and the news that it's already on the hunt for its next big purchase -- and consider how management's financial strategies make it an even more attractive stock for investors today.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on March 29, 2019.

Chris Hill: First-quarter revenue for McCormick was just 1% higher than a year ago. But adjusted earnings were just spicy enough to push shares of McCormick higher this week. What do you think, Jason?

Jason Moser: Well, excluding currency effects, it was 4% top line growth, Chris. Let's give them what we can here. Remember, back in January on the show, we were talking about the stock getting hammered on earnings. There are some concerns about 2019 guidance. The stock fell down toward toward the $120 range. I was saying then, I thought it was a gift for people who could take the longer view. And lo and behold, here we are now, the stock is back up knocking on $150. I think a lot of that is because of the reliability of the business. It's not lighting the world on fire with its top line growth, but it's able to continue growing and it's able to continue bringing those savings down to the bottom line with this RB Foods acquisition that gave them more share globally in the sauces market.

Interestingly enough, we talked a little while about how at some point or another, this business was more than likely going to start looking at another acquisition to make at some point. RB Foods was a big one. It seems like they've integrated that nicely. It's working out well. Management on the call did note that it's time to start looking for a new deal. They're going to continue paying down the debt from the RB Foods acquisition. They're not going to be buying back shares. Very refreshing to see that.

Ron Gross: Yeah, nice.

Moser: They are a dividend aristocrat, so expect another dividend raise at some point this year. I imagine at some point this year, we may find out about another deal that they're looking to make. All in all, the business continues to perform well. I am a happy shareholder, and I think anyone out there who owns shares, hang on to them. It's a good long-term story.

Hill: Is it safe to assume that whatever the acquisition they make is, it's going to be right in their wheelhouse? They're not going to do what -- obviously, Pepsi is a much bigger company, but you look at Pepsi with Frito Lay. They've got beverages, they've got snacks. McCormick's not looking to break out of the spice category, are they?

Moser: No, I don't think we'd be seeing them buying a furniture company anytime soon. It's going to be in their wheelhouse of spices, flavors, sauces, things like that.

Gross: I hope it's not bottled water. There's enough bottled water out there.

Moser: I mean, I think the RB Foods acquisition was a good example of a direction they're willing to take. As silly as this may sound, sauces is a bit of a different market than those dry spices. It requires a little bit of a different production mentality. They've shown that they're obviously willing to go in that direction. I suspect they'll keep all options on the table.

Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Moser has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Ron Gross has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends McCormick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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