Impressive growth amid challenges
Packaged food companies mostly struggled last year as weak demand, promotions, and costs affected their top and bottom lines. However, McCormick (MKC) was an exception and reported stellar financials. The company’s top line has risen by an impressive double-digit percentage rate in the past four quarters, driven by its recent acquisitions. Conagra Brands’ (CAG), Kellogg’s (K), Hershey’s (HSY), J.M. Smucker’s (SJM), and General Mills’ (GIS) recent net sales growth, supported by benefits from acquisitions, has also been impressive.
What sets McCormick apart from other major food companies is its impressive organic sales and margin growth. McCormick’s organic sales have grown healthily due to its expanded distribution, new product launches, and shift toward value-added products. Encouragingly, McCormick’s margins have also expanded as most other packaged food makers’ margin growth has been sluggish over the past several quarters. The company’s strong sales, margin expansion, and lower tax cushioned its bottom line, which has grown at a double-digit percentage rate in the past four quarters.
McCormick’s top- and bottom-line growth is expected to decelerate in fiscal 2019 as the company faces a tough year-over-year comparison and laps its RB Foods acquisition. However, its organic sales and earnings are expected to sustain their growth momentum. McCormick’s value-added products, expanded distribution, and innovation are expected to drive its top line, while its higher sales and margin improvement are expected to support its bottom line. Analysts expect McCormick’s top line to increase by 3.4% in fiscal 2019, and its adjusted EPS to grow by 7.8%.