Equities analysts expect that Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) will report $1.06 earnings per share for the current quarter, Zacks reports. Four analysts have made estimates for Hershey’s earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $1.08 and the lowest is $1.03. Hershey posted earnings per share of $1.17 during the same quarter last year, which would suggest a negative year over year growth rate of 9.4%. The business is scheduled to report its next earnings results on Friday, February 2nd.

On average, analysts expect that Hershey will report full year earnings of $4.80 per share for the current fiscal year, with EPS estimates ranging from $4.77 to $4.81. For the next year, analysts anticipate that the company will report earnings of $5.15 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $5.05 to $5.23. Zacks’ earnings per share calculations are an average based on a survey of sell-side research firms that cover Hershey.

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $1.33 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.29 by $0.04. Hershey had a return on equity of 124.06% and a net margin of 9.52%. The firm had revenue of $2.03 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.01 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $1.29 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 1.5% compared to the same quarter last year.

HSY has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Sanford C. Bernstein upgraded Hershey from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and raised their target price for the stock from $109.00 to $127.00 in a report on Thursday, August 17th. Susquehanna Bancshares set a $115.00 target price on Hershey and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Thursday, August 24th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Hershey from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $122.00 target price on the stock in a report on Monday, October 2nd. Citigroup raised their target price on Hershey from $126.00 to $130.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, October 27th. Finally, UBS reduced their target price on Hershey from $110.00 to $106.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, October 27th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $113.35.

In other news, VP Javier H. Idrovo sold 15,132 shares of Hershey stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, October 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $110.04, for a total transaction of $1,665,125.28. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Michele Buck sold 400 shares of Hershey stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, September 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $108.00, for a total value of $43,200.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 165,297 shares in the company, valued at approximately $17,852,076. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 34,049 shares of company stock worth $3,715,013 in the last quarter. 0.92% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel Lllp raised its position in Hershey by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel Lllp now owns 6,344 shares of the company’s stock valued at $681,000 after buying an additional 19 shares during the last quarter. Geneva Advisors LLC raised its position in Hershey by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Geneva Advisors LLC now owns 4,744 shares of the company’s stock valued at $509,000 after buying an additional 19 shares during the last quarter. Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. raised its position in Hershey by 0.5% in the 2nd quarter. Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. now owns 8,545 shares of the company’s stock valued at $918,000 after buying an additional 39 shares during the last quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS raised its position in Hershey by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 10,401 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,117,000 after buying an additional 42 shares during the last quarter. Finally, QCI Asset Management Inc. NY raised its position in Hershey by 10.8% in the 2nd quarter. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY now owns 1,024 shares of the company’s stock valued at $110,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 51.32% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Hershey (HSY) traded down $0.40 on Tuesday, reaching $112.80. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 599,800 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,024,770. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.45, a quick ratio of 0.55 and a current ratio of 0.95. Hershey has a 12-month low of $98.85 and a 12-month high of $116.49. The company has a market capitalization of $23,847.62, a PE ratio of 23.10, a P/E/G ratio of 3.08 and a beta of 0.39.

Hershey declared that its board has authorized a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 26th that allows the company to buyback $100.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 15th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, November 22nd will be issued a dividend of $0.656 per share. This represents a $2.62 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.33%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, November 21st. Hershey’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 77.98%.

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About Hershey

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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