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Are These Sweet Stocks Tricks or Treats?

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By now, you've stocked your cupboard with treats to satisfy the goblins coming to your door this weekend. So should you stock your portfolio with these same treats, or will you be in for a trick?

A treat …
With Kraft's (NYSE: KFT  ) acquisition of Cadbury and privately held Mars' acquisition of Wrigley with financing support from Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) , the investable universe for candy is a small, but sweet one. Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) and Tootsie Roll (NYSE: TR  ) , the two most direct ways to get focused exposure to consumers' appetite for a sugar high have a lot in common.  Both companies have been around for more than 100 years, and have brands that appeal to multiple generations, an impressive resilience that's hard to find in other sectors. While sales growth has been nothing to brag about, Hershey and Tootsie Roll both generate healthy margins and pay dividends.


5-Year Revenue Growth %

TTM Pre-Tax Profit Margin %

Dividend Yield %

Forward P/E

Price / Free Cash Flow







Tootsie Roll






Source: Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

… or a trick?
Like their products, the valuations of Hershey and Tootsie Roll are rich. Hershey shares have been on a run, up 38% year to date, far outperforming the S&P 500.

In addition, both companies have dual share classes, with B shares wielding 10 votes for every one vote granted to common stock shares available to individual investors. This dual share structure effectively places a single owner in the driver's seat at both companies. With Hershey, the Milton Hershey School Trust is the controlling shareholder, while at Tootsie Roll, the Gordon family controls the company.

While significant inside ownership is generally a positive for a stock, in the case of Hershey and Tootsie Roll, it is less clear that the controlling owners have the same interests as common shareowners, and the structure is most likely the reason a larger food and beverage company, hasn't already snapped them up. The Milton Hershey School Trust has created obstacles to a company sale, though the market may be counting on a change of heart in the future if the right price and buyer -- paging Mr. Buffett! -- emerge.

If you are looking for a defensive play, these stocks are worth a look, but at current prices, you may be in for more trick than treat.

For more on Hershey and Tootsie Roll, check out:

Fool contributor April Taylor owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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