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Transaction costs pinch McCormick’s 4Q earnings

Spice maker McCormick & Co.’s net income dipped 1 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter, weighed down by transaction costs related to an acquisition and joint venture.

The Sparks-based company also gave a 2012 earnings outlook Thursday that is below analysts’ expectations, as it foresees the weak economy and rising costs continuing to pressure its business.

Like many others, McCormick has raised prices and found ways to keep costs down as it contends with rising prices for ingredients and fuel and uncertain market conditions.

McCormick earned $131.7 million, or 98 cents per share, for the three months ended Nov. 30. That’s down from $133.6 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said the quarterly decrease included 5 cents per share in transaction costs related to its Kamis buyout and Kohinoor joint venture.

Analysts polled by FactSet predicted earnings of 98 cents per share.

Revenue climbed to $1.11 billion from $979.5 million, topping Wall Street’s estimate of $1.08 billion.

Full-year net income increased 1 percent to $374.2 million, or $2.79 per share, from $370.2 million, or $2.75 per share, in the previous year.

Annual revenue climbed 11 percent to $3.7 billion from $3.34 billion.

The company said that increased sales and its cost savings measures were more than enough to offset higher material costs during the year.

For 2012, McCormick anticipates earnings between $3.01 and $3.06 per share. Analysts expect 2012 earnings of $3.10 per share.

Chairman, President and CEO Alan Wilson said in a statement that the company expects at least 13 percent of its 2012 sales to come from emerging markets. Those markets made up 6 percent of sales in 2006.

Looking at the first quarter, McCormick expects earnings between 51 cents and 54 cents per share. Wall Street forecasts earnings of 62 cents per share.

McCormick stock finished the day at $51.07, down 79 cents, or 1.52 percent.