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McCormick, the right mix


US spice maker McCormick & Company saw profits in the second-quarter climb 19 per cent, helped by solid sales growth and interest income from a purchase-price adjustment.

For the quarter ended 31 May, the company reported net income of $40 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $33.6 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier.

The report comes a day after McCormick announced the sale of its packaging business to Kerr Group for $142.5 million. For McCormick, the move allows breathing space to concentrate on improving the core food business - flavours, spices and seasonings.

"Today, we are truly focused on flavour. Our strategies for growth are effectively driving sales, profit and strong cash flow. I am confident that we will meet our objectives for 2003 and continue to build shareholder value," said Robert J. Lawless, CEO of the company.

In a move largely approved by industry analysts, McCormick recently bought New Orleans, Louisiana-based Zatarain, a producer of dinner mixes.

McCormick's growth estimates would result in 2003 earnings from continuing operations of about $1.31 to $1.33 a share on sales of $2.32 billion to $2.365 billion.