Hershey (HSY) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Hershey (NYSE:HSY) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Tuesday, December 26th.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s top-line performance has been weak for quite some time now. Sales increased a meager 0.7% in 2016 and 1.9% in the first nine months of 2017. Soft international sales due to macro headwinds, changing consumer shopping habits and intense competition from the broader snacking environment in the United States were mainly responsible for the sales results. Persistent macroeconomic challenges in China also continue to hurt the company’s result. Hershey expects China’s net sales in 2017 to decline single digits on a year-over-year basis as lower direct trade, returns, discounts and allowances are likely to hurt gross sales. Notably, earnings estimates for the current year and next have moved downward over the last 60 days, limiting upside potential for the stock.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently weighed in on HSY. Royal Bank of Canada restated a hold rating and set a $122.00 price objective on shares of Hershey in a research note on Friday, December 22nd. Susquehanna Bancshares set a $113.00 target price on Hershey and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, October 26th. Sanford C. Bernstein set a $124.00 price target on Hershey and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, December 19th. UBS Group reduced their price target on Hershey from $110.00 to $106.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a report on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Berenberg Bank upgraded Hershey from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $90.00 target price for the company in a report on Monday, December 18th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $114.02.

Shares of Hershey (NYSE:HSY) opened at $110.09 on Tuesday. The company has a market cap of $23,200.00, a PE ratio of 32.76, a P/E/G ratio of 2.82 and a beta of 0.38. The company has a quick ratio of 0.55, a current ratio of 0.95 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.45. Hershey has a 12 month low of $101.61 and a 12 month high of $116.49.

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $1.33 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.29 by $0.04. Hershey had a net margin of 9.52% and a return on equity of 124.06%. The firm had revenue of $2.03 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.01 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $1.29 earnings per share. Hershey’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.5% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts anticipate that Hershey will post 4.8 earnings per share for the current year.

Hershey declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, October 26th that permits the company to buyback $100.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In other Hershey news, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,100 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $110.26, for a total value of $121,286.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Michele Buck sold 400 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $108.00, for a total value of $43,200.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 164,497 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $17,765,676. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 17,817 shares of company stock worth $1,932,295 in the last ninety days. 0.92% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in HSY. Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its holdings in Hershey by 19,853.3% during the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 3,786,147 shares of the company’s stock worth $406,519,000 after purchasing an additional 3,767,172 shares during the last quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. lifted its holdings in Hershey by 417.5% during the 3rd quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 1,297,179 shares of the company’s stock worth $141,613,000 after purchasing an additional 1,046,500 shares during the last quarter. Evercore Trust Company N.A. acquired a new stake in Hershey during the 3rd quarter worth approximately $105,956,000. AJO LP increased its stake in Hershey by 13,232.0% during the 2nd quarter. AJO LP now owns 747,924 shares of the company’s stock worth $80,305,000 after acquiring an additional 742,314 shares during the period. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its stake in Hershey by 60.3% during the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,699,400 shares of the company’s stock worth $182,465,000 after acquiring an additional 639,400 shares during the period. 51.24% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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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