Hershey Sweetens Long-Term Outlook

By RetailFOXBusiness

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) lifted its long-term earnings and revenue growth targets ahead of an investor conference in New York on Monday, but only reaffirmed its disappointing forecasts for the current fiscal year.

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The candy maker sees adjusted earnings for the current year growing by 10% to 12%, to a range of $3.11 to $3.17, below average analyst estimates of $3.21 a share, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

The Hershey, Pa.-based company also reaffirmed its fiscal 2012 sales growth target of 7% to 9% from its year-earlier view of $6.08 billion. The Street is looking for sales of $6.85 billion.

Shares of Hershey fell about 1.2% to $68.69 Monday.

Yet, the chocolate maker was upbeat in the longer term, saying that it expects to grow sales by a sweeter 5% to 7% and earnings by 8% to 10%, appeasing shareholders long awaiting an outlook boost.

“Our marketplace and financial results over the last few years validate our consumer-driven approach to core brand investment in both U.S. and key international markets,” Hershey CEO John Bilbrey said in a statement.

Hershey has reported double-digit profit growth over the past three years. Its shares are up 11.3% so far this year, including a 9% growth spurt since late April.

The company has worked with the board on a comprehensive five-year strategic plan to help expand its five core brands -- Hershey’s. Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers -- around the world.

“We have a global organization that we’re equipping with resources and tools to win in the marketplace,” Bilbrey said.

Hershey is also in the process of revamping its confectionery business that is focused on non-chocolate candy, individual segments of chocolate and refreshments in the U.S. and abroad.