April 29, 2021 at 03:33PM

Hershey’s first-quarter results were, once again, sweet music to shareholders’ ears. Consumers’ chocolate cravings during COVID-19 times have meant increased sales for the candy company right through the pandemic, as Q1 results beat analysts’ estimates.

Consolidated net sales for the company hit $2.3 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 12.7 percent from the same period the previous year. Sales in the comparable quarter for 2020 were $2.0 billion. In addition, quarterly net income rose to $395.8 million, or $1.90 per share-diluted, an increase of 47.3 percent from the same period the previous year.

Michele Buck, the Hershey Co. president and CEO, said the company had experienced “broad-based growth … leading to double-digit sales and earnings growth in the first quarter and an increased outlook for the full year.” She added that “as COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the globe, consumers are optimistic about the future and looking forward to spending more time with their family, friends and community.”

Hershey’s net sales in North America were $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 12.8 percent versus the same period the previous year. The company said the earnings were a result of such factors as “continued momentum in the take-home chocolate portfolio” and seasonal sales growth.

In March, Hershey repackaged its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into Reese’s Direct from the Factory, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) initiative. The company said that the 2.5-pound box, only available for a limited time, would sell for $29.99.

Last year, Hershey realized that consumers stuck at home were making s’mores en masse, so it began ramping up the production of materials. “Being able to read those consumer and retail signals quickly allowed us to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Kristen Riggs, chief growth officer. At the time, she said that Hershey was getting savvier about online sales — for example, making it possible for customers to buy a collection of recipe ingredients with one click.

Hershey On A Roll As Quarterly Sales Hit $2.3 Billion …

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