HERSHEY, PA -- Hershey Co. said earnings rose 7% in the fourth quarter, boosted by brisk holiday sales in the U.S. and accelerated growth in emerging markets.
Net income for the maker of Reese's, Twizzlers and Hershey's chocolate increased during the fourth quarter to $135.5 million, or 59¢ a share, up from $126.7 million, or 55¢, a year earlier. Sales in the quarter rose 5.4% to $1.48 billion.
Hershey has rolled out two new products within the past couple of months: Reese's Minis, bite-size unwrapped peanut butter cups, and Hershey's Drops, small disc-shaped chocolates. The company said it expects to increase ad spending in the mid-single-digit percentages in 2011 to support their launches.
In 2010, Hershey's ad spending jumped 62%. In the fourth quarter, it rose 85% over the same period in 2009. Hershey said that its higher investment in advertising has paid off as consumers purchased more candy for everyday occasions, rather than just during seasonal events. The company has also been able to boost market share in the candy category.
For all of 2010, Hershey reported revenue of $5.67 billion, up 7% from 2009. Net income rose 17% to $509.8 million, or $2.21 a share, from $436 million, or $1.90 per share.
Despite rising prices for cocoa and sugar, Hershey said it's confident that cost cuts will keep expenses in line. The company forecast that sales for 2011 will grow an estimated 3% to 5% over 2010, while earnings are expected to be 6% to 8% higher than last year.