McCormick profit beats market expectations

(Reuters) - McCormick & Co <MKC.N> posted a bigger quarterly profit as demand at its industrial business segment remained strong, and the spicemaker backed its 2011 outlook.

For the first quarter, the company which has beaten earnings expectations for four straight quarters, earned $76.8 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with $67.9 million, or 51 cents a share, last year.

Sales rose more than 2 percent to $782.8 million in December-February.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn 54 cents a share on revenue of $803 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company, which sells its products under the Lawry's and Old Bay labels besides its namesake brand, backed its 2011 earnings outlook of $2.80-$2.85 a share and sales growth of 5-7 percent.

Sparks, Maryland-based McCormick sells spices, herbs, seasoning blends and sauces to grocers, warehouse clubs as well as discount and drug stores.

Shares of the company closed at $49.61 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)