Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Monday.

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 analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “hold” rating and set a $105.00 price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) in a report on Friday. UBS AG cut their price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) from $110.00 to $106.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a report on Friday. Citigroup Inc. raised their price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) from $126.00 to $130.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday. Susquehanna Bancshares Inc set a $113.00 price objective on shares of Hershey Company (The) and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein raised shares of Hershey Company (The) from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and lifted their target price for the company from $109.00 to $127.00 in a report on Thursday, August 17th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $112.33.

Hershey Company (NYSE HSY) traded up 1.17% during mid-day trading on Monday, reaching $105.30. 772,560 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Hershey Company has a 52 week low of $95.68 and a 52 week high of $116.49. The stock has a market capitalization of $22.37 billion, a PE ratio of 33.64 and a beta of 0.39. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $108.62 and its 200-day moving average is $108.44.

Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $1.33 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.29 by $0.04. Hershey Company (The) had a net margin of 9.52% and a return on equity of 124.06%. The company had revenue of $2.03 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.01 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.29 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Hershey Company will post $4.81 EPS for the current year.

Hershey Company (The) declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase 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 often a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

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In related news, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,100 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $105.90, for a total value of $116,490.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 27,766 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,940,419.40. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Michele Buck sold 400 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $108.00, for a total transaction of $43,200.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 165,697 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $17,895,276. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 4,519,232 shares of company stock valued at $479,154,674 in the last three months. 0.92% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in HSY. WFG Advisors LP raised its stake in Hershey Company (The) by 25.2% in the 2nd quarter. WFG Advisors LP now owns 998 shares of the company’s stock valued at $107,000 after purchasing an additional 201 shares during the last quarter. Sun Life Financial INC increased its stake in shares of Hershey Company (The) by 12,637.5% during the 2nd quarter. Sun Life Financial INC now owns 1,019 shares of the company’s stock valued at $109,000 after acquiring an additional 1,011 shares during the last quarter. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY increased its stake in shares of Hershey Company (The) by 10.8% during the 2nd quarter. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY now owns 1,024 shares of the company’s stock valued at $110,000 after acquiring an additional 100 shares during the last quarter. Fiduciary Trust Co. acquired a new position in shares of Hershey Company (The) during the 2nd quarter valued at about $125,000. Finally, Invictus RG acquired a new position in shares of Hershey Company (The) during the 1st quarter valued at about $155,000. 49.93% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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