Hershey Co. (NYSE:HSY) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Hershey’s sales trends have been weak since 2014 due to weak category trends, increased competition from broader snacking category and soft international growth. The top-line weakness continued in 2016 with sales declining 1.4% in the first half of 2016 due to continued weakness in demand in China and North America. Moreover, the company lowered its sales and earnings expectations for 2016 twice this year due to weak growth in the CMG category in North America and persistent macroeconomic challenges in China. However, management expects sales trends to improve in the second half driven by innovation and larger in-store merchandising and trade support.”

Other analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Vetr upgraded shares of Hershey from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $114.32 price objective for the company in a report on Wednesday, July 13th. S&P Equity Research upgraded shares of Hershey from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their price objective for the stock from $94.00 to $126.00 in a report on Tuesday, July 5th. Deutsche Bank AG decreased their price objective on shares of Hershey from $105.00 to $91.00 and set a “hold” rating for the company in a report on Tuesday, July 26th. Credit Suisse Group AG restated a “hold” rating and set a $110.00 price objective on shares of Hershey in a report on Thursday, July 21st. Finally, Argus downgraded shares of Hershey from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and raised their price objective for the stock from $97.14 to $111.95 in a report on Tuesday, July 5th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating, three have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. Hershey has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $100.50.

Analyst Recommendations for Hershey (NYSE:HSY)

Shares of Hershey (NYSE:HSY) traded down 0.02% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $96.41. 348,820 shares of the stock were exchanged. Hershey has a 52 week low of $82.42 and a 52 week high of $117.79. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $97.22 and its 200-day moving average is $99.20. The stock has a market capitalization of $20.55 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.23 and a beta of 0.23.

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 28th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.78 by $0.07. Hershey had a net margin of 10.14% and a return on equity of 100.78%. The business earned $1.64 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.61 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.78 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts forecast that Hershey will post $4.26 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, December 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, November 23rd will be given a dividend of $0.618 per share. This represents a $2.47 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.56%. Hershey’s payout ratio is presently 72.22%.

In other Hershey news, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,100 shares of Hershey stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $111.41, for a total transaction of $122,551.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 27,188 shares in the company, valued at $3,029,015.08. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Company insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. BTIM Corp. raised its stake in shares of Hershey by 7.1% in the third quarter. BTIM Corp. now owns 204,005 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,503,000 after buying an additional 13,570 shares during the last quarter. National Pension Service raised its stake in shares of Hershey by 9.3% in the third quarter. National Pension Service now owns 114,174 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,915,000 after buying an additional 9,729 shares during the last quarter. Private Bank & Trust Co. acquired a new stake in shares of Hershey during the third quarter worth $480,000. MSI Financial Services Inc raised its stake in shares of Hershey by 28.2% in the third quarter. MSI Financial Services Inc now owns 4,698 shares of the company’s stock worth $449,000 after buying an additional 1,034 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Orrstown Financial Services Inc. raised its stake in shares of Hershey by 19.9% in the third quarter. Orrstown Financial Services Inc. now owns 1,127 shares of the company’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 187 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 53.01% of the company’s stock.

Hershey Company Profile

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

5 Day Chart for NYSE:HSY

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