McCormick (MKC) is a leading manufacturer of spices, seasonings, flavorings, and other specialty food products for the consumer, industrial, and foodservice markets. The company was formed in 1889 and incorporated in Maine in 1903. In 1915, McCormick was reincorporated in Maryland, where it remains headquartered. The company’s stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MKC.

Since its inception, McCormick has become known as a global leader in flavor. It operates two business segments: consumer and industrial. The consumer business, which accounted for 60% of sales and 79% of operating income in 2012, offers McCormick’s products to consumers in more than 110 countries and has largely been the company’s bread and butter. The industrial business services multinational food manufacturers and foodservice customers.

McCormick has consistently benefitted from the strong brand loyalty built in its long history, which is evident in its steady top-line growth. In fact, the spice maker logged revenues of more than $4 billion last year, aided in part by an expanding global footprint. Indeed, the company is putting increased focus on its international operations, rolling out a number of new offerings aimed at emerging markets, in particular. And, despite high materials costs of late, owing to inflated prices in the spice market, McCormick has maintained healthy margins, allowing much of its strong revenue growth to trickle down to the bottom line. In fact, it has reported steady advances in earnings per share over the last several years.

Long-term prospects are solid for McCormick, as well. The company has a strong position in the U.S. market, and will likely continue to grow its foreign operations. It should especially benefit from its expanding presence in the promising Asia/Pacific market, where it recently acquired China-based Wuhan Asia Pacific Condiments (WAPC) for a reported $147 million. In all, we anticipate steady top- and bottom-line advances over the 3- to 5-year time frame.

From an investment perspective, McCormick shares are a fairly safe bet, making them an attractive option for conservative accounts. What’s more, McCormick pays a decent dividend, and it will likely continue to raise its quarterly payout going forward, further sweetening the pot. That said, interested subscribers are encouraged to review our full-page report on McCormick in The Value Line Investment Survey.

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have any positions in any of the companies mentioned.