On the Street: McCormick's Outlook

April 21/Food Weekly News -- McCormick & Company Inc. has outlined global initiatives to grow sales, which include building brand loyalty, driving innovation, acquisitions and expansion into underserved retail channels, adjacent product categories and new geographies. The company already has a strong presence in Mexico and a fast-growing business in China where it is driving sales with a combination of marketing support, acquisitions and distribution expansion.

Since 2000, cost reductions and a more favorable business mix have increased gross profit margins to 41.6% from 35.2%. Annual margin improvement of 0.5% on average is expected from further shifts in business mix and the company's Comprehensive Continuous Improvement (CCI) program, which is targeted to reduce costs a total of $150 million from 2010 to 2013. For the past two years, the company has achieved increases in cash flow from operations due in part to improved working capital. During this period, the cash conversion cycle was reduced by 10 days, and a goal has been set for another 10-day reduction by the end of 2012. The company is announcing that in 2010, it will use a portion of this cash to resume share repurchases under a current authorization program as an offset to the impact of stock option activity.

From the April 26, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition