Are you thinking of putting a little spice in your life by adding spice maker McCormick (NASDAQ:MKC) to your portfolio? Read on before making that choice.

Today, the company announced lackluster first-quarter results compared with a year ago. Even with the Silvo acquisition adding 2% to total revenues (consummated in November 2004, Silvo deals in the Dutch spices and herbs consumer market) and favorable foreign exchange rates adding another 2%, the company posted a less than zesty 5% sales gain. Net income was relatively stagnant compared with last year -- the company posted net income of $0.26 on a diluted per-share basis compared with $0.27 on a diluted per-share basis last year over the same period (including a special one-time charge that decreased earnings by $0.01).

Before dismissing the sales results, realize the company is forecasting only a 4% to 7% increase in sales for fiscal 2005 and the years ahead. In fairness, sales growth estimates seem to be on track.

The company cited 2003 hedging activities in vanilla beans, at a much higher price than they fetch today, as a key reason gross profit margins would be under pressure through the first half of 2005. Intuitively speaking, this makes a grain of sense, since the company's pricing power (from a revenue perspective) is, to some degree, tied to commodities markets.

But give the company credit. At the end of last year, it forecast earnings for fiscal 2005 of $1.74 a share -- with most of that income falling in the second half of the year. That's good news as long as there is not another crop or pricing surprise.

Management touts that it will generate $450 million greenbacks over the next three years after paying dividends and making capital expenditures, provided that they seem attainable. But the stock is trading down 8% toward late afternoon. A likely cause is today's earnings report -- this is a commodity company whose earnings/revenue stream is exposed to crop risks and broader macroeconomic fluctuations.

Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Click here to see the Motley Fool's disclosure policy.