Despite an Earnings Miss, Hershey Looks Beautiful!

Hershey topped revenue estimates but fell short on earnings per share. Despite this shortcoming, the company's performance is strong, and its future looks very bright!

Feb 3, 2014 at 1:20PM

On Thursday, Jan. 30, Hershey (NYSE:HSY) reported earnings that, although mixed, encouraged shareholders. In response to the news, shares of the country's (and one of the world's) largest chocolate maker rose 2.6% following news that revenue significantly outperformed analyst expectations while earnings per share came in mixed. But after all is said and done, what does this mean for Hershey shareholders? After rising on Thursday, are shares overvalued or is there still room to run?

Mr. Market had high expectations but results were mixed
For the quarter, management reported that revenue came in at close to $2 billion. This was about 11.7% higher than what the company delivered the same quarter a year ago and almost 4% above the near $1.9 billion that analysts anticipated. In its release, the company said that the rise in revenue was due to strong growth both within the United States and abroad.

By and large, the primary driver behind the business' revenue growth was a 9% jump in existing product volume. This was complemented by a 3.2% rise in new product volume but negatively affected by a 0.5% hit taken from foreign currency fluctuations.

While the results for Hershey were impressive, performance failed to impress on an earnings-per-share basis. For the quarter, the company did well and increased its earnings by 24% from $0.66 to $0.82. This improvement was driven, in part, by rising sales but can also be chalked up to a slight reduction in the number of shares outstanding and its cost of goods sold falling from 56.9% of sales to 56.2%. In spite of these positive developments, the company's earnings fell short of the $0.86 that analysts hoped to see.

But can Hershey continue its growth?
Despite the lackluster earnings for the quarter, Hershey is still showing signs of attractive growth. But this shouldn't surprise very many people. For years, the business has been growing rapidly. For instance, between 2010 and 2012, revenue at the chocolate maker grew 17% from $5.7 billion to $6.6 billion. Although most of the company's business comes from within the United States, Hershey has grown its international revenue by nearly 30% over this period.

While this is impressive, it should be noted that Hershey isn't the only company going after international sales. Mondelez International (NASDAQ:MDLZ), producer of snack foods, also has its hands in the cookie jar. The only difference between Mondelez and Hershey is that it derives 80% of revenue from outside North America, while Hershey gets about 84% of its sales domestically.

Over the past three years, revenue at Mondelez has grown only 11% from $31.5 billion to $35 billion. While this is reasonable, the company's performance does trail Hershey's. On the other hand though, its growth in profitability significantly outperformed Hershey's. Between 2010 and 2012, net income (adjusted for gains from discontinued operations) rose 138% at Mondelez, while Hershey's net income rose by 30%.

Foolish takeaway
Even though Hershey reported less-than-ideal earnings for the quarter, the company's revenue growth was phenomenal. When you combine its recent and longer-term performance, you see that a strong, thriving enterprise emerges. Moving forward, management will likely continue pressing the business to expand, but as the company moves abroad, it will face competitive challenges from players like Mondelez. While there is no guarantee about how the business will perform as it expands abroad, its future will likely remain very bright if it can replicate, with even half the results, its performance in the United States.

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Daniel Jones has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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