A treat just be­fore Hal­loween

Her­shey’s prof­its up 47% in quar­ter; bet­ter yearly earn­ings pre­dicted

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS -

HER­SHEY, PA. » New Reese’s peanut but­ter cups and Kit Kat bars helped boost Her­shey’s sales, the choco­late com­pany said Fri­day as it re­ported that quar­terly profit rose 47 per­cent and pre­dicted bet­ter full-year earn­ings than it pre­vi­ously ex­pected.

Shares of Her­shey Co. jumped nearly 7 per­cent Fri­day.

Its new prod­ucts — a Reese’s peanut but­ter cup stuffed with Reese’s Pieces, and Kit Kat Big Kat — helped in­crease sales of both brands, the com­pany said. In De­cem­ber, it will launch Her­shey’s Cookie Layer Crunch, a choco­late bar stuffed with cook­ies. Her­shey hopes the prod­uct will re­fresh the brand and at­tract Amer­i­cans who are in­creas­ingly snack­ing more in­stead of eat­ing a set amount of meals a day. Last year, Her­shey bought jerky maker Krave to ex­pand its snack of­fer­ings.

“We know that snack­ing is grow­ing faster than the to­tal food mar­ket,” said Michele Buck, Her­shey’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, in a con­fer­ence call with in­vestors.

Her­shey is also in the midst of find­ing a new CEO to re­place John Bil­brey, who is re­tir­ing in July. The an­nounce­ment of his re­tire­ment ear­lier this month came just a cou­ple of months af­ter Oreo cookie maker Mon­delez ended talks to buy Her­shey.

Over­all, Her­shey re­ported

third-quar­ter earn­ings of $227.4 mil­lion, or $1.06 per share, in the third quar­ter, up from $154.8 mil­lion, or 70 cents per share, in the same pe­riod a year ago.

Ad­justed earn­ings came to $1.29 per share, beat­ing Wall Street ex­pec­ta­tions of $1.18 per share, ac­cord­ing to Zacks In­vest­ment Re­search.

Rev­enue rose 2 per­cent to $2 bil­lion, which did not meet Street fore­casts. Four an­a­lysts sur­veyed by Zacks ex­pected $2.02 bil­lion.

But Her­shey said it now ex­pects full-year earn­ings in the range of $4.28 per share to $4.32 per share. That’s up from its pre­vi­ous fore­cast $4.24 per share to $4.28 per share, and also above the $4.26 per share that an­a­lysts ex­pected.

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