Hershey (NYSE: HSY ) reported strong quarterly results this morning. The candy company posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings of $1.03 per share on net income of $232.9 million, which was up close to 35% from $176 million, or $0.77 per share, a year ago. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.01 in the latest quarter.
Net sales increased 6.1% to $1.85 billion, driven by new product launches and growth across its core candy brands. Even so, this missed analysts' estimates for sales of $1.88 billion in the period. Going forward, Hershey says its full-year outlook remains on track. The candy maker expects earnings per share of $3.60 to $3.65 for the year.
Additionally, Hershey's Lancaster brand of caramel candies will go on sale in the U.S. in January, making it the company's first U.S. candy launch of a new brand that is not a brand extension or acquisition in 30 years. Hershey debuted the candy line in China in May as part of a plan to tap into the region's $1.2 billion candy market. Shares of Hershey are up more than 36% year-to-date.