The Hershey Company
) recently discussed its financial outlook and plans for the year
at the 2014 Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference
on Feb 20.
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Maintains 2014 Outlook
At the conference, Hershey reaffirmed its 2014 outlook. The
company expects to meet its long term targets in 2014. Adjusted
earnings per share are expected in the range of $4.05-$4.13,
representing 9%-11% year over year growth, and in line with the
Net sales growth in 2014 is expected to be within the long-term
target range of 5%-7% (including currency headwinds) driven
mainly by volume growth. In 2014, the company will continue to
focus on core brands, launch several new products (both in the
U.S. and international markets), and leverage Hershey's scale at
Further, Hershey plans to accelerate investments in international
markets in 2014. International sales are expected to grow in
double digits in 2014, helped by acquisitions and joint ventures
as well as investments to boost organic growth. These efforts are
expected to continue to drive both top- and bottom-line growth
Gross margin is expected to expand 50 bps in 2014 driven by input
cost deflation, higher productivity and greater fixed cost
New Products for 2014
During the conference, the company mentioned that Brookside
Crunchy Clusters and Ice Breakers Cool Blasts chews are some of
the new products scheduled for 2014. In fact, the company
mentioned that Brookside will be the company's sixth global
brand. Other global brands include Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's
Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. The company has
already introduced Hershey's Spreads and Lancaster Soft Crèmes so
far in 2014.
In a separate press release, Hershey announced that its board of
directors approved an additional $250 million stock repurchase
Hershey currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Other companies that warrant investor attention include
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
J&J Snack Foods Corp.
Post Holdings, Inc.
). All the three companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).