Hershey (HSY) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Thursday, Zacks.com reports. The firm presently has a $143.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective would suggest a potential upside of 11.63% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s shares have improved in the past year on the back of buyouts, innovation and cost-saving methods. These upsides drove the company during first-quarter 2019, wherein both top and bottom lines beat estimates and grew year over year. The company focuses on strengthening its acquired businesses and making innovations. Further, Hershey is on track with its Margin for Growth program. Notably, savings from this plan, reduced costs and higher sales drove gross margin expansion in the quarter. These factors along with better net price realization bode well for 2019, wherein net sales and gross margin are expected to improve. However, results were somewhat hurt by currency headwinds, especially in the international segment. Additionally, stiff competition and consumers’ changing preferences are persistent threats.”

Several other brokerages also recently weighed in on HSY. UBS Group set a $100.00 target price on shares of Hershey and gave the company a “sell” rating in a research note on Friday, April 26th. Credit Suisse Group set a $123.00 target price on shares of Hershey and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, April 26th. Barclays boosted their target price on shares of Hershey from $103.00 to $120.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a research note on Friday, April 26th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their target price on shares of Hershey from $93.00 to $108.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Friday, April 26th. Finally, Bank of America reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $130.00 target price (up previously from $120.00) on shares of Hershey in a research note on Friday, April 26th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $113.27.

HSY stock traded up $0.36 during trading on Thursday, hitting $128.10. The stock had a trading volume of 30,547 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,185,753. Hershey has a 1-year low of $89.29 and a 1-year high of $127.98. The company has a market capitalization of $26.67 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.90, a PEG ratio of 2.79 and a beta of 0.18. The company has a current ratio of 0.92, a quick ratio of 0.59 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.27.

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, April 25th. The company reported $1.59 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.48 by $0.11. Hershey had a net margin of 14.44% and a return on equity of 90.64%. The firm had revenue of $2.02 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.41 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.3% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, research analysts predict that Hershey will post 5.7 earnings per share for the current year.

In other news, VP Javier H. Idrovo sold 4,873 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, February 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $110.00, for a total transaction of $536,030.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 21,436 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,357,960. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, major shareholder Hershey Trust Co Trustee In Tr sold 583,012 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $127.00, for a total transaction of $74,042,524.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 1,714,591 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $217,753,057. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders have sold 2,464,398 shares of company stock valued at $306,806,009. Corporate insiders own 0.41% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Raymond James & Associates increased its position in Hershey by 26.1% during the 4th quarter. Raymond James & Associates now owns 56,621 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,069,000 after purchasing an additional 11,702 shares in the last quarter. Gotham Asset Management LLC increased its position in Hershey by 453.3% during the 4th quarter. Gotham Asset Management LLC now owns 92,780 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,944,000 after purchasing an additional 76,011 shares in the last quarter. Captrust Financial Advisors increased its position in Hershey by 126.1% during the 4th quarter. Captrust Financial Advisors now owns 848 shares of the company’s stock worth $91,000 after purchasing an additional 473 shares in the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Hershey by 5.5% during the 4th quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 156,085 shares of the company’s stock worth $16,729,000 after purchasing an additional 8,098 shares in the last quarter. Finally, United Services Automobile Association increased its position in Hershey by 0.6% during the 4th quarter. United Services Automobile Association now owns 47,030 shares of the company’s stock worth $5,041,000 after purchasing an additional 269 shares in the last quarter. 53.61% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Hershey

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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