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Top analyst ups Mondelez on possible Hershey deal

An employee monitors foil-wrapped Cadbury Creme Eggs as they move along the production line at the Bournville Cadbury factory, operated by Mondelez International.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One of Wall Street's top analysts upgraded his rating on Mondelez to positive from neutral on the higher likelihood the company will merge with Hershey or another food and beverage company.

"We believe it is unlikely MDLZ will remain 'as is' over the next 12 months, with either MDLZ buying HSY or MDLZ being acquired by a larger F&B conglomerate, " Susquehanna's Pablo Zuanic wrote in a note to clients Monday.

Zuanic's picks have a 10.6 percent one-year average return with a 75 percent success rate, according to analyst ranking service TipRanks, placing him in the top 4 percent of all Wall Street analysts covering any industry.

Mondelez's $23 billion bid for Hershey was rejected at the end of last month by Hershey's corporate board in part because of the influence of its controlling shareholder, the Hershey Trust. However, over the weekend The Wall Street Journal reported that some board members of the trust may have to step down as part of a possible settlement with the attorney general's office of Pennsylvania, where Hershey has been based since its founding more than a century ago.

"Turmoil at the Hershey Trust makes such an event more realistic than in the past," noted the analyst.

Here's where Zuanic sees the stock going in the next 12 months...