February 18, 2009 / 11:09 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-McCormick: Looking at acquisitions in Asia and Europe

* Sees long-term EPS growth of 9-11 percent

* See long-term sales growth of 4-6 percent

* Sees 2009 EPS $2.23 to $2.27, including charges

* Reiterates 2009 sales growth of 2-4 percent

* Looking at acquisitions in India, China, Eastern Europe

BANGALORE, Feb 18 (Reuters) - McCormick & Co Inc (MKC.N), which sells spices, seasonings and food coloring, said it was looking at India, China and Eastern Europe for acquisitions to grow its business.

“In the past five years, acquisitions have accounted for a quarter of the average annual sales growth,” Chief Executive Alan Wilson said at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

Analyst Kenneth Goldman at J.P. Morgan Securities said he was surprised by the company’s acquisition plans considering Lawry’s was recently added.

Goldman Sachs, however, said in a research note that McCormick “deserves the benefit of the doubt because of its historical success with M&A, and we assume that any acquisitions will be small and accretive”.

The company expects 2009 earnings of $2.23 to $2.27 a share, including restructuring charges of 5 cents, Chief Financial Officer Gordon Stetz said at the conference.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn $2.31 a share, before items, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company expects a challenging environment in 2009 with restaurant industry weakness and continued currency exchange rate fluctuations.

McCormick, which has paid dividends every year since 1925, said it expects a dividend payout ratio of 35 percent to 40 percent of earnings per share. (Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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