Revival of on-the-go snacking helps Hershey lift annual sales outlook

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July 29 (Reuters) - Hershey Co (HSY.N) raised its annual sales outlook and beat estimates for quarterly results on Thursday, as consumers bought more of its chocolates at airports, movie theaters and other food joints after the easing of COVID-19 curbs.

With Americans stepping out more after vaccinations and the relaxation of lockdowns, demand has rebounded for on-the-go consumables and refreshments after a year of weak sales.

Sales at Hershey's mainstay North America business rose 12.3% in the second quarter as consumers munched on SkinnyPop popcorn and gluten-free snack Pirate's Booty.

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The company also reported a 70.2% surge in overseas market sales, marking a revival in a business that suffered last year due to coronavirus restrictions and the pandemic's impact on consumer spending.

Overall, net sales jumped nearly 17% to $1.99 billion, exceeding the average analyst estimate of $1.84 billion.

The U.S. chocolatier said it expected 2021 net sales to rise between 6% and 8%, compared with a prior forecast of 4% to 6% growth. Analysts expected annual sales to be up nearly 6%, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

But Hershey maintained its annual adjusted profit outlook of $6.79 to $6.92 per share, citing higher supply chain costs.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.47 per share in the quarter ended July 4, beating expectations of $1.43 per share.

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Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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