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Could Hershey Surpass Analysts’ 1Q18 Sales Expectations?

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What analysts expect

Analysts expect Hershey (HSY) to post sales of $1.9 billion in 1Q18, which reflects YoY (year-over-year) growth of ~3.0%. Hershey’s top line declined during the last reported quarter, reflecting a timing shift in shipments. However, the company’s sales are expected to return to growth in 1Q18, driven by growth in core brands and favorable currency rates. Strength in Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch Bar is also expected to drive its volumes.

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However, a short Easter season and SKU optimization could hurt Hershey’s top-line growth rate. A consumer shift toward healthier snack options and a tough retail landscape in the US could pressure its growth. With respect to the company’s international markets, persistent challenges in China could lower its sales.

Full-year outlook

Despite its near-term challenges, Hershey’s management expects its top line to reach 5.0%–7.0% in 2018, driven by sales acceleration in 2H18. Notably, the company’s projected growth rate reflects an ~5.0% contribution from the acquisition of Amplify Snack Brands. Planned product launches for products, such as Reese’s Outrageous in 2H18, could also support its sales growth rate.

Among Hershey’s peers, Kellogg (K), Conagra Brands (CAG), J.M. Smucker (SJM), and General Mills (GIS) are also expected to benefit from incremental sales from their acquired brands.

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