CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hershey Co posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it lifted sales of its namesake candy and Reese's brands by spending more on marketing.
The company also stood by its 2009 sales and earnings forecast on Tuesday, saying that higher commodity and pension costs and the weak economy would weigh on results.
The maker of Reese's peanut butter cups and Hershey's Kisses has been overhauling its supply chain to save money and also increasing advertising as it tries to gain market share against rivals like Mars Inc.
Hershey said net profit rose to $82.2 million, or 36 cents a share, in the fourth quarter from $54.3 million, or 24 cents share, a year earlier.
Excluding costs for the supply chain overhaul and asset impairment charges, the chocolate maker earned 59 cents share. Analysts on average forecast 54 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.
Sales rose 2.6 percent to $1.38 billion. In August, the company announced a 10 percent price increase in the United States to help cope with higher costs, which helped offset lower sales volume and the impact of the stronger U.S. dollar on sales overseas.
Hershey spent 26 percent more on advertising in the United States in the fourth quarter. The company's market share, which had fallen in recent years, rose 0.5 percentage points in the quarter at locations where such data is measured.
Hershey also stood by its forecast, calling for 2009 earnings from operations to be up from 2008, but by less than the 6 percent to 8 percent long-term target. It also stood by its forecast of a 2 percent to 3 percent sales increase.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa Von Ahn)