Hershey, PA — A bright third quarter portends a solid finish to 2013 and future growth for The Hershey Co., which announced it third-quarter financial results today.
Driven by growth of core brands and sales of new products in U.S. and international markets, Hershey’s net sales for the quarter grew 6.1 percent to $1.8 billion from $1.7 billion for the same period in 2012. In addition, sales through September 2013 reached $5.1 billion compared with $4.89 billion through for the first nine months of 2012.
U.S. sales of candy, mint and gum across all outlets, including c-stores, for the year ending October 5 rose five percent, increasing Hershey’s market share 0.7 points in spite of lackluster gum sales for the third consecutive year.
The company maintained consistent organic gains with 6.6 percent organic sales growth for the quarter, which Hershey President and CEO John P. Bilbrey credits to sales volume. Anticipating the additional lift from December shipments to retailers of 2014 new products and customers’ expectation of improved holiday candy sales, he said: “We expect solid fourth-quarter net sales growth that will result in a full-year 2013 net sales increase of about seven percent, including the impact of foreign currency exchange rates.”
Strong performance of core brands and a pipeline of new products, including York Minis, Hershey’s spreads and Lancaster Soft Crèmes caramels, as well as investments in merchandising, programming and advertising are expected to drive momentum into 2014, according to the company.
Citing strong brand performance and Hershey’s “disciplined approach to organic investments and acquisitions or joint ventures” in China, Brazil, Mexico and India, Bilbrey forecasts 2014 net sales growth within a five to seven percent target and gross margin expansion in adjusted earnings per share-diluted of between nine and 11 percent.