Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of McCormick & Co. (NYSE:MKC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Estimates have been moving upward since McCormick delivered better-than-expected results in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. In fact, the company has been delivering better-than-expected earnings in the last four consecutive quarters. McCormick has been witnessing rising demand for spices, herbs and seasonings over the last few years, which is boosting its sales. Product innovation, brand marketing support and expanded distribution, as well as pricing actions also led to sales growth, offsetting the negative impact of material costs and currency. It is encouraging that McCormick is focusing on building sales through acquisitions, and expects strong sales momentum to continue in fiscal 2016. Its cost savings initiatives are also appealing. The company has thus raised its financial guidance for fiscal 2016 driven by strong year-to-date performance and current projections for the fourth quarter.”

Several other brokerages have also commented on MKC. Sanford C. Bernstein lowered shares of McCormick & Co. from an outperform rating to a market perform rating and dropped their price target for the stock from $113.00 to $104.00 in a research note on Friday, September 16th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Deutsche Bank AG lowered their target price on shares of McCormick & Co. from $113.00 to $112.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a research note on Friday, September 23rd. Jefferies Group lowered their target price on shares of McCormick & Co. from $100.00 to $95.00 and set a hold rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, October 12th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded shares of McCormick & Co. from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and set a $111.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, October 25th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $100.11.

Shares of McCormick & Co. (NYSE:MKC) traded down 0.846% during midday trading on Tuesday, hitting $92.055. 111,276 shares of the company were exchanged. The stock has a market cap of $11.61 billion, a PE ratio of 25.416 and a beta of 0.50. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $94.06 and its 200-day moving average is $98.75. McCormick & Co. has a one year low of $78.45 and a one year high of $107.84.

McCormick & Co. (NYSE:MKC) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, September 30th. The company reported $1.03 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.09. McCormick & Co. had a net margin of 10.58% and a return on equity of 27.26%. The company had revenue of $1.09 billion for the quarter. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.85 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.9% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that McCormick & Co. will post $3.79 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, October 25th. Investors of record on Tuesday, October 11th were issued a dividend of $0.43 per share. This represents a $1.72 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.85%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, October 6th. McCormick & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 47.51%.

In related news, Director Freeman A. Hrabowski III sold 2,000 shares of McCormick & Co. stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $94.15, for a total transaction of $188,300.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 38,442 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,619,314.30. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 13.70% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in MKC. BB&T Corp increased its position in shares of McCormick & Co. by 580.0% in the second quarter. BB&T Corp now owns 169,660 shares of the company’s stock valued at $18,098,000 after buying an additional 144,709 shares in the last quarter. LMR Partners LLP boosted its stake in McCormick & Co. by 10.2% in the third quarter. LMR Partners LLP now owns 3,873 shares of the company’s stock valued at $387,000 after buying an additional 358 shares during the last quarter. Royal Bank of Canada boosted its stake in McCormick & Co. by 7.2% in the second quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 309,814 shares of the company’s stock valued at $33,047,000 after buying an additional 20,754 shares during the last quarter. Ferguson Wellman Capital Management Inc. bought a new stake in McCormick & Co. during the second quarter valued at $207,000. Finally, Allegis Investment Advisors LLC boosted its stake in McCormick & Co. by 11.9% in the second quarter. Allegis Investment Advisors LLC now owns 3,101 shares of the company’s stock valued at $319,000 after buying an additional 331 shares during the last quarter. 73.78% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About McCormick & Co.

McCormick & Company, Incorporated manufactures, markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavorful products to the food industry, including retailers, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses. The Company operates in two segments: consumer and industrial. Its brands in the Americas include McCormick, Lawry’s, Stubb’s, Club House, Zatarain’s, Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia.

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