McCormick & Company Earnings Call Nuggets: Strategy For India and Organic Growth Rate Outlook

McCormick & Company (NYSE:MKC) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Strategy For India

Alexia Howard – Sanford Bernstein Research: I’m sure others will ask about the quick service situation, but I’d like to ask about India. You built up your sales in China through acquisitions and organic growth pretty rapidly over the last few years. So I’d like to hear a little bit more about the strategy and the priority level for India. Could you give us a little bit of information about what percentage of sales are currently in India? How important this new restaurant chain customer might be and might there been other opportunities like that? Might we see further acquisitions in India and just a little sense of the priority level as India versus China at this point?

Alan D. Wilson – Chairman, President and CEO: Sure. India is much more of a developing market for us than China is and we’ve been in China for more than 20 years and we’re in China with both our consumer and our industrial business and so we’ve had time to build that out. India, right now, we have mainly a consumer business along with a couple of joint ventures that are more ingredient-based. Our strategy is really similar, because the industrial business helps provide the scale for us to continue to grow and expand our consumer business. Although in this case we have an established consumer business that will allow us the scale to start to build out an industrial business. India is still pretty small percentage of sales, less than 5% and we are very bullish on the market, although, we recognize that it’s going to be a long run, long-term growth strategy for us. Remember, as we stated when we made the Kohinoor acquisition, our strategy there is to evolve to much more value-added portfolio and we’ve started to do that by introducing the Rice ‘n Spice mixes and some of the 2 Minute Meals, so what we want to do is, put our value-added products through the distribution channel that we acquired when we bought Kohinoor.


Organic Growth Rate Outlook

Thilo Wrede – Jefferies & Company: I would have thought that these organic growth rate in the consumer business in EMEA might accelerate with the – now that you have integrated Kamis and you can rollout the products into new regions and I think you alluded to it in the slides that Russia is actually a great growth driver for you right now. Yet, the organic growth rate doesn’t seem to budge too much, was I too optimistic or are there really too many offsetting factor? What’s the outlook here that this can better?

Alan D. Wilson – Chairman, President and CEO: We have a multitude of markets there and our business has performed pretty well. It’s off of very strong growth in the quarter last year and so we expect that that we’ll continue to grow, we’re pretty bullish on our business in Poland or business in Russia is continuing to expand. Our business in the U.K. and France are a little more mature, but we are still seeing volume growth and in both those markets.

Thilo Wrede – Jefferies & Company: So the organic growth rate of around 3%, we should expect that for the rest of the year as well?

Alan D. Wilson – Chairman, President and CEO: Well, obviously it’s an environment that continues to feel economic pressures. So it’s an area that we’re actually very pleased with the performance in certain of those markets given the tough conditions that they are operating in where we see volume declines in other categories and in fact our growth is outpacing those other categories. So we’re looking for positive volume growth, because they continue to execute well. We’re leaning into those businesses in the back half of the year with new products and part of our advertising increase is targeted in Europe, so we’re looking for strong growth but we haven’t been so far as to give a specific number, but we’re still expecting good growth out of that region.

Alexia Howard – Sanford Bernstein Research: Then just one housekeeping question. Does the new guidance include any kind of currency headwind assumptions?

Gordon M. Stetz – EVP and CFO: It reflects whatever currency rates are we are at right now.

Alexia Howard – Sanford Bernstein Research: Then let me ask differently. Is the guidance reduction driven at least partially by currency as well?

Gordon M. Stetz – EVP and CFO: No, it’s primarily the two items we mentioned, which is the impact of the transaction costs from Wuhan and the delayed recovery in the industrial side of our business.