updated 8/15/2005 8:56:15 PM ET 2005-08-16T00:56:15

The Hershey Co., the nation’s largest candy maker, announced its fourth acquisition within a year, saying Monday it has agreed to purchase a San Francisco-based maker of specialty chocolate desserts.

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Joseph Schmidt Confections Inc. has stores in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., and its truffles and other chocolate desserts are sold in department and specialty stores.

Also Monday, Hershey said it has finalized a deal to acquire Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Inc., a California-based specialty maker of dark chocolate bars and baking products.

The combined purchase price for the two companies will be between $46.6 million and $61.1 million, Hershey said. The final amount will reflect sales growth through 2007. Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt have combined annual sales of approximately $25 million, compared to Hershey’s annual revenue of $4.43 billion in 2004.

Hershey chief executive and chairman, Richard H. Lenny, said the acquisitions will help the Hershey-based company capture more of the expanding $1.7 billion premium chocolate segment.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Moritz said Hershey plans to keep the companies’ names and employees.

In the past year, Hershey has acquired the Mexico-based maker of spicy candies, Grupo Lorena, and Hawaii’s largest macadamia nut processor, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp.

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