UPDATE 1-Hershey's 3rd-qtr sales rise less than expected
(Reuters) - Hershey Co reported higher quarterly earnings on Thursday, helped by strong sales of its candies including Reese's, Kit Kat and Ice Breakers.
The No. 1 candy producer in the United States said third-quarter net income was $233.0 million, or $1.03 per share, compared with $176.3 million, or 77 cents per share a year earlier.
Excluding items such as pension costs and factory expansion expenses, earnings per share were $1.04, beating the analysts' average estimate of $1.01 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 6.1 percent to $1.85 billion, from $1.75 billion in the third quarter of 2012. Analysts were expecting sales of $1.88 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Hershey stood by its full-year earnings forecast, saying it expects adjusted earnings per share of $3.68 to $3.71 in fiscal year 2014. The company also said it expected full-year sales to increase about 7 percent.
In January, the company will launch its first new brand in the United States in 30 years. Lancaster Soft Cremes will come in three flavors - caramel, vanilla and caramel, and vanilla and raspberry - the Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company said earlier this month.