Chocolate maker Hershey Co. (HSY: Quote) on Monday backed its outlook for 2012, and announced a five-year strategic plan that includes expansion of its five core brands. The company also issued its long-term targets.
The company continues to expect full year adjusted earnings per share growth of 10 to 12 percent, representing a range of $3.11 - $3.17 per share, compared to $2.83 per share earned in the previous year.
On average, 16 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect earnings of $3.21 per share for 2012. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Reported earnings are estimated in the range of $2.82 - $2.92 per share, in comparison with the prior year's $2.74 per share.
The firm still sees net sales growth of about 7 to 9 percent, including the expected impact of foreign currency exchange rates. The forecast includes the purchase of Brook side Foods announced in December 2011. Wall Street expects $6.58 billion in revenue for the year.
The chocolate maker had lifted its full year forecast in April, after first-quarter profit increased on revenue increase amid volume growth and higher prices.
Further, Hershey said today that it would invest and expand its five core brands - Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers - in a disciplined manner, globally.
The firm expects these strategies to support its new long-term targets of organic net sales growth of 5 to 7 percent and adjusted earnings per share growth of 8 to 10 percent.
Hershey also noted that its solid operating cash flow and strength of its balance sheet enable the company to participate in strategic acquisitions that enhance value.
"While acquisitions are difficult to predict, combined with solid organic growth, we have aspirational goals of reaching $10 billion in net sales by the end of 2017," John Bilberry, President and Chief Executive Officer, said.
HSY closed on Friday at $69.50, compared to the previous close of $69.56, on 1.63 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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