February 01, 2012 at 08:50 AM EST
Hershey Boosts Dividend 10% as Q4 Earnings Meet Expectations (HSY)

Candy maker The Hershey Company (HSY) on Wednesday posted fourth quarter earnings results that matched analyst expectations, and boosted its quarterly dividend payout by 10%.

The Hershey, PA-based company reported fourth quarter net income of $142.1 million, or 62 cents per share, compared with $135.5 million, or 59 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items, adjusted profit was 70 cents per share.

Sales rose 6% from last year to $1.57 billion.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected a matching profit of 70 cents per share, on slightly lower revenue of $1.55 billion.

Looking ahead, the company forecast full-year 2012 earnings to range from $2.79 to $2.89 per share, including special charges of 16 to 19 cents per share.

In a separate announcement, HSY’s board of directors approved a 10% increase to its quarterly dividend payout. The new dividend of 38 cents per share (up from 34.5 cents) will be paid March 15 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 24.

Hershey shares were unchanged in premarket trading Wednesday.

The Bottom Line
Shares of The Hershey Company (HSY) will now have a 2.49% dividend yield, based on the higher dividend payout and last night’s closing stock price of $61.08. The stock has technical support in the $56-$58 price area. The stock is trading near all-time highs of $64 a share.

The Hershey Company (HSY) is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARS™ Rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks, as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here.

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