Hershey 4Q profit exceeds expectations

9 Feb 2017

The Hershey Company has announced sales and earnings for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2016. Consolidated net sales were $1,970.2 million compared with $1,909.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Hershey 4Q profit exceeds expectations

The Hershey Company has announced sales and earnings for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2016. Consolidated net sales were $1,970.2 million compared with $1,909.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2015. Reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $116.9 million or $0.55 per share-diluted, compared with $227.9 million or $1.04 per share-diluted for the comparable period of 2015.

Fourth-quarter and full-year net sales increased 3.2% and 0.7%, respectively, including the impact of acquisitions and foreign currency exchange rates.

"I'm pleased with our fourth-quarter results, particularly operating profit that was greater than our expectations, and marketplace performance, which sequentially improved throughout the year, resulting in an increase in our candy, mint and gum (CMG) market share," said John P. Bilbrey, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey Company. "Additionally, the implementation of efficiency initiatives related to the review of our cost structure resulted in lower selling, marketing and administrative (SM&A) expenses versus our forecast. These initiatives, which we will discuss more broadly at our investor update on March 1, 2017, enabled us to deliver additional operating income growth earlier than planned resulting in 2016 earnings per share-diluted ahead of our forecast. Our U.S. marketplace performance was in line with our expectations across all retail channels driven by seasonal results. Our brands responded positively to our Halloween and Holiday investments and we gained 0.3 market share points in each season. Cash flow generation, a hallmark of the company, remains strong as we generated operating cash flow of nearly $1 billion in 2016. Combined with our solid balance sheet this enabled us to return about $920 million to stockholders via dividends and share repurchases."

In its outlook for 2017, the company said full-year net sales are expected to increase 2% to 3% including a net benefit from acquisitions of about 0.5 points and unfavourable foreign currency exchange rates of about 0.25 points. Reported earnings per share-diluted are expected to be in the $4.54 to $4.65 range, and adjusted earnings per share-diluted are expected to increase 7% to 9% and be in the $4.72 to $4.81 range.