The Hershey Company: An Earnings Preview

Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) is set to report earnings on Thursday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

Earnings expectations
The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether the chocolatier met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts tack profits for Hershey at $0.76 per share this quarter. Hershey brought in earnings of $1.15 per share for the first quarter, up 5.5% from the year-ago period. The maker of Reese's, Kit Kat, and Almond Joy expects its full-year 2014 earnings to be between a 9% to 11% increase over last year. 

Sales growth 
Hershey's net sales grew 2.4% in the first quarter, up more than 2% from the year-ago period. Sales increases stemmed from several of Hershey's successful product innovations including Hershey Spreads, Kit Kat Minis, Brookside Chocolate, and Lancaster Creme Caramels. The candy maker reported more than $1.5 billion in sales during the second quarter of last year and nearly $7.2 billion for 2013. Hershey anticipates its full-year 2014 sales growth to come in between 5% and 7%. 

International growth
The Pennsylvania-based candy maker currently derives about 17% of revenues from customers outside the U.S. However, Hershey has been investing in international markets, where it's been gaining ground. Outside the U.S. and Canada, international net sales rose 16% last year. Meanwhile, the chocolatier posted net sales up a combined 25% in Brazil, China, and Mexico in 2013. The maker of York, Reese's, and Twizzlers brands is on track to realize $1 billion of net sales in international markets by the end of 2014. This further validates Hershey's strategy of focusing investments in key international markets like Latin America and Asia.

Foolish final thoughts
Will Hershey deliver a mouthwatering quarter? We'll soon find out. When Hershey reports its results on Monday, I'll be watching to see if the candy maker met earnings expectations and what type of organic growth the company achieved. I'll also be looking for if and how Hershey grew revenues internationally in the second quarter.

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