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    Hershey's Q1 Profit Up 20 Percent

    A recent price increase and a longer Easter season helped the second-largest U.S. candy maker achieve a higher-than-expected revenue rise.

    PHILADELPHIA -- The Hershey Co.’s first-quarter results beat Wall Street expectations, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The nation’s No. 2 candy maker saw profit surge 20 percent, spurred by a recent price increase and a reporting period that captured more days of Easter sales.

    "Hershey's results for the first quarter were solid, and I am pleased with the progress we continue to make," David J. West, the company's president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone conference with analysts.

    Lower-than-expected dairy costs also allowed the company to spend more on Easter candy promotions, according to the report. However, West acknowledged beating last year's results will become more difficult for the rest of 2009 because the company has now lapped a February 2008 price increase.

    Hershey took a 10-percent price increase in August to help offset rising costs for commodities such as cocoa.

    Hershey reported it earned $75.9 million in the three months ended April 5. A year earlier, it earned $63.2 million.

    Excluding costs to restructure its worldwide supply chain, Hershey said it would have earned $86 million.

    Hershey’s revenue rose 6.5 percent to nearly $1.24 billion from $1.16 billion a year ago. Analysts predicted $1.19 billion in sales, according to the Inquirer.

    In the report, Hershey maintained its sales will grow 2 percent to 3 percent in 2009 and profits will fall short of its long-term objective of 6 percent to 8 percent annual growth.

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