Hershey Company (The) (HSY) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Hold”

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Monday, October 30th.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s earnings and revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in third-quarter 2017. Earnings also improved from the year-ago level by 3.1%. Growth in its core brands, successful innovation and progress in multi-year productivity, and cost-saving initiatives drove the outperformance. Net sales improved 1.5% year over year owing to strong demand for products like Kisses, Kit Kat and Chocolate Dipped Pretzels. This marked the sixth straight quarter of sales rise after a few quarters of no growth. Organic sales grew 1.1% as demand strengthened in the United States. However, Hershey’s adjusted gross margin declined 30 basis points due to higher freight rates, manufacturing and distribution costs and unfavorable sales mix. Shares of Hershey’s lost around 4% in the last six months. Estimates for the fourth quarter and 2017 also moved down 3.5% and 0.2%, respectively, reflecting analysts’ concern.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently weighed in on HSY. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Hershey Company (The) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Wednesday, July 12th. Morgan Stanley lowered their target price on shares of Hershey Company (The) from $111.00 to $108.00 and set an equal weight rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, July 18th. Royal Bank Of Canada reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $114.00 price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) in a research report on Friday, July 21st. Susquehanna Bancshares Inc set a $118.00 price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) and gave the stock a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 26th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $111.00 price objective (down from $112.00) on shares of Hershey Company (The) in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $113.35.

Shares of Hershey Company (HSY) opened at $109.10 on Monday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.55, a current ratio of 0.95 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.45. Hershey Company has a fifty-two week low of $95.68 and a fifty-two week high of $116.49. The stock has a market cap of $22,983.88, a P/E ratio of 22.27, a PEG ratio of 2.97 and a beta of 0.36.

Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $1.33 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.29 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $2.03 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.01 billion. Hershey Company (The) had a net margin of 9.52% and a return on equity of 124.06%. The firm’s revenue was up 1.5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.29 earnings per share. sell-side analysts predict that Hershey Company will post 4.8 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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Hershey Company (The) declared that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 26th that permits the company to repurchase $100.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, November 22nd will be paid a dividend of $0.656 per share. This represents a $2.62 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.41%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, November 21st. Hershey Company (The)’s payout ratio is 77.98%.

In other news, VP Javier H. Idrovo sold 15,132 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, October 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $110.04, for a total value of $1,665,125.28. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,100 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, September 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $109.43, for a total value of $120,373.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 27,666 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,027,490.38. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 4,534,049 shares of company stock valued at $480,760,013 in the last ninety days. 0.92% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 5.5% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 10,664,194 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,145,016,000 after acquiring an additional 557,846 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 2.8% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 9,545,096 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,024,857,000 after acquiring an additional 260,072 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 1.2% in the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 6,270,169 shares of the company’s stock valued at $673,225,000 after acquiring an additional 75,548 shares during the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 15.4% in the third quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 4,368,862 shares of the company’s stock valued at $476,949,000 after acquiring an additional 582,715 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 0.3% in the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,825,282 shares of the company’s stock valued at $195,980,000 after acquiring an additional 5,796 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 50.22% of the company’s stock.

About Hershey Company (The)

The Hershey Company is a producer of chocolate in North America. The Company’s principal product offerings include chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery products; gum and mint refreshment products; pantry items, such as baking ingredients and beverages, and snack items, such as spreads, meat snacks, bars and snack bites and mixes.

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Analyst Recommendations for Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY)

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