Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday. The brokerage currently has a $122.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price indicates a potential upside of 13.32% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s shares outperformed the industry it belongs to so far this year. Although Hershey’s sales trends have been weak since 2014 due to weak category trends and increased competition from broader snacking category, the company has been registering sales growth in recent times. We are also encouraged by the new cost savings program, ‘Margin for Growth’, intended to improve overall operating margin through supply chain optimization, a streamlined operating model and reduced administrative expenses, with savings primarily being achieved in 2018 and 2019. However, economic slowdown in China and softening chocolate category trends have been hurting Hershey’s international sales since 2015. Hershey expects China’s net sales in 2017 to decline single digits on a year-over-year basis as lower direct trade, returns, discounts and allowances are likely to hurt gross sales.”

Other research analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. Sanford C. Bernstein raised Hershey Company (The) from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $109.00 to $127.00 in a research note on Thursday, August 17th. Susquehanna Bancshares Inc set a $115.00 target price on shares of Hershey Company (The) and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Saturday, June 17th. Royal Bank Of Canada restated a “hold” rating and issued a $114.00 price target on shares of Hershey Company (The) in a research note on Friday, July 21st. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Hershey Company (The) from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, June 27th. Finally, Morgan Stanley decreased their price target on shares of Hershey Company (The) from $111.00 to $108.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, July 18th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $111.55.

Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) opened at 107.66 on Monday. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $107.33 and a 200-day moving average of $108.44. Hershey Company has a 52 week low of $94.03 and a 52 week high of $116.49. The company has a market capitalization of $22.87 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.40 and a beta of 0.39.

Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 26th. The company reported $1.09 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.90 by $0.19. Hershey Company (The) had a return on equity of 119.66% and a net margin of 8.95%. The company had revenue of $1.66 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.65 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.85 EPS. Hershey Company (The)’s revenue was up 1.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts forecast that Hershey Company will post $4.82 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other news, insider Michele Buck sold 400 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, July 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $108.00, for a total value of $43,200.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 166,097 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $17,938,476. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,100 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $105.45, for a total value of $115,995.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 27,866 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,938,469.70. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 4,504,500 shares of company stock valued at $477,527,458. 0.92% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Hershey Company (The) by 3,144.3% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 10,106,348 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,104,118,000 after acquiring an additional 9,794,835 shares during the period. Janus Henderson Group PLC boosted its holdings in Hershey Company (The) by 19,853.3% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 3,786,147 shares of the company’s stock valued at $406,519,000 after acquiring an additional 3,767,172 shares during the last quarter. AJO LP increased its position in Hershey Company (The) by 13,232.0% during the 2nd quarter. AJO LP now owns 747,924 shares of the company’s stock valued at $80,305,000 after purchasing an additional 742,314 shares during the period. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its position in Hershey Company (The) by 60.3% during the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,699,400 shares of the company’s stock valued at $182,465,000 after purchasing an additional 639,400 shares during the period. Finally, Koch Industries Inc. acquired a new stake in Hershey Company (The) during the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $614,000. Institutional investors own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

About Hershey Company (The)

The Hershey Company is a producer of chocolate in North America. The Company’s principal product offerings include chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery products; gum and mint refreshment products; pantry items, such as baking ingredients and beverages, and snack items, such as spreads, meat snacks, bars and snack bites and mixes.

Analyst Recommendations for Hershey Company (The) (NYSE:HSY)

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