US spice giant McCormick & company posted an improved set of figures for the third quarter boosted by strong sales, acquisitions and better distribution.
Sales from continuing operations reached $558 million, a 17 per cent increase on the third quarter of 2002. The figures benefitted from the the 2003 acquisition of the Zatarain, which makes dinner mixes, and Uniqsauce businesses, which together accounted for 8 per cent of the increase.
Robert J. Lawless, chairman, president and CEO of McCormick was upbeat on Wednesday, emphasising that the results beat expectations.
"With the strength in our consumer business, recent acquisitions and positive foreign exchange, we have achieved an 11 per cent sales increase for the first three quarters and now expect to grow 2003 sales 9-11 per cent, versus our prior projection of 8-10 per cent," he said.
Excluding a gain from the sale of its packaging business and its UK brokerage business, McCormick said it earned $40.1 million, or 28 cents a share.
A brand advertising drive together with new product lines helped the consumer business pull in a sales rise of 29 per cent, with McCormick reporting operating income from continuing operations for the consumer business climbing to $43.8 million for the third quarter of 2003, up 38 per cent on the same period in 2002.
Results were less rosy for the industrial business with the company quoting higher costs of vanilla, 'less favourable mix of sales' and a rise in expenses as contributing to the lower figures. Operating income for the third quarter fell 5 per cent to $28.2 million, from the same period a year ago.