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Old Bay seasoning and Frank's RedHot sauce 'on fire' during coronavirus pandemic: McCormick CEO

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

All of the chicken and meat people are hoarding at home during the coronavirus pandemic are probably getting doused in Old Bay seasoning or Frank’s RedHot sauce, suggests McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius.

“A lot of our products are really on fire right now. No pun intended about Frank’s RedHot sauce. But I almost don’t know where to begin. Consumers are staying home. Kids are at home. People have to cook. Dining out is not an option,” Kurzius said in an exclusive interview on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “Pretty much across the board our products for at-home cooking are doing well.”

McCormick (MKC) is viewed on Wall Street as the undisputed spice and flavor king. It’s a position solidified in 2017 via the $4.2 billion acquisition of brands such as French’s mustard and Frank’s RedHot sauce from Reckitt Benckiser.

To Kurzius’ point, sales for most of McCormick’s products look to be off the charts.

McCormick told investors in late March that McCormick brand sales surged about 90% for the week ended March 22. That marked an acceleration from the prior week’s gain of roughly 65%.

McCormick’s stock has shot up 13.5% in the past month, mirroring moves by others in packaged foods benefiting from the coronavirus consumer stock-up trend.

Three varieties of McCormick spices in plastic table shaker containers. Salt free all purpose, garlic and herb and Perfect Pinch salt free garlic and herb. Variety of prepared and mixed Seasonings to add to any food dish. Getty

Kurzius said McCormick brand sales growth has cooled a bit in April, but remains up by double-digit percentage.

That said, Wall Street remains a touch skeptical on further gains for McCormick’s stock in the near-term.

Sell-side analysts contend the company still has earnings risk ahead due to its global exposure to the restaurant industry, which is under severe pressure. The company’s China’s business (done out of three plants in the country, one in Wuhan that re-opened in mid-March) also remains below peak sales levels as the country comes back online after its own quarantine.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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