Hershey (HSY) Upgraded to “Buy” by Zacks Investment Research

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Monday. The brokerage presently has a $116.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 13.40% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s shares have surpassed the industry in the past three months, buoyed by well-planned business expansion and productivity-boosting efforts. In fact, acquisitions (mainly Amplify), net price realization and improved volumes drove the company’s top line during the second quarter of 2018. In order to sustain its growth track, the company plans to strengthen its acquired businesses, and also continue focusing on innovation. Further, Hershey concentrates on boosting savings through supply-chain optimization and its Margin for Growth program. Despite such efforts, Hershey’s margins have been strained owing to elevated costs. Evidently, adjusted gross margin declined 260 bps during the second quarter. In addition, the company’s transformation initiatives in China are yet to yield positive impacts on performance. Consumers shift toward healthy food also remains a threat.”

Other research analysts have also recently issued research reports about the company. Consumer Edge cut Hershey from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating in a research note on Monday, July 9th. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $100.00 price objective on Hershey and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 29th. ValuEngine upgraded Hershey from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 15th. Deutsche Bank set a $110.00 price target on Hershey and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, September 14th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus boosted their price target on Hershey from $90.00 to $95.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, July 27th. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $103.33.

Shares of NYSE:HSY opened at $102.29 on Monday. The firm has a market cap of $21.74 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.47, a P/E/G ratio of 2.21 and a beta of 0.32. Hershey has a 12-month low of $89.10 and a 12-month high of $115.82. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 3.05, a current ratio of 0.94 and a quick ratio of 0.58.

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 26th. The company reported $1.14 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.10 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $1.75 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.74 billion. Hershey had a return on equity of 108.82% and a net margin of 13.40%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 5.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.09 earnings per share. research analysts anticipate that Hershey will post 5.36 EPS for the current year.

In related news, insider Michele Buck sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $102.82, for a total transaction of $154,230.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 172,394 shares in the company, valued at $17,725,551.08. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Kevin R. Walling sold 30,835 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $101.18, for a total value of $3,119,885.30. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 57,611 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,829,080.98. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 35,335 shares of company stock valued at $3,565,355 in the last 90 days. Company insiders own 0.87% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. FTB Advisors Inc. increased its position in Hershey by 108.4% during the second quarter. FTB Advisors Inc. now owns 1,167 shares of the company’s stock valued at $107,000 after acquiring an additional 607 shares during the last quarter. Farmers & Merchants Trust Co of Chambersburg PA purchased a new stake in Hershey during the second quarter valued at $121,000. Fort L.P. purchased a new stake in Hershey during the second quarter valued at $123,000. Flagship Harbor Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in Hershey during the second quarter valued at $130,000. Finally, grace capital bought a new stake in Hershey during the second quarter valued at about $130,000. Institutional investors own 52.68% of the company’s stock.

Hershey Company Profile

The Hershey Company, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells confectionery products. The company operates through two segments, North America; and International and Other. It offers chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery products; gum and mint refreshment products comprising mints, chewing gums, and bubble gums; pantry items, such as baking ingredients, toppings, beverages, and sundae syrups; and snack items, including spreads, meat snacks, bars and snack bites, mixes, popcorn and protein bars, and cookies.

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