Even though he’s allergic to chocolate, Jon Markman is a big fan of Hershey (NYSE:HSY). It’s actually his pick for the InvestorPlace‘s 10 Best Stocks for 2012. And it’s turned out to be a great call.
Today, the company posted another strong earnings report, with the stock up over 1% in Thursday trading. In fact, the stock is up about 15% for the year.
In the second quarter, Hershey reported a 5.4% increase in earnings to 59 cents a share. Revenues were up 6.7% to $1.41 billion.
That’s a pretty good performance in light of the slowing global economy. Hershey has also had to deal with the headwinds of higher commodities prices.
But then again, the company has the advantage of massive scale, as it controls about 43% of the North American market. Hershey also has an array of iconic brands like Almond Joy, Milk Duds, Reese’s, York Peppermint Patty, Kit Kat and Twizzlers. Hershey’s key chocolates are also part of other deserts, such as from Dairy Queen and Betty Crocker.
Because of Hershey’s brand power, the company has been able to increase prices. The latest came in March, when it instituted a hefty 10% hike. While the move has resulted in a slip in volume, it wasn’t enough to drag down results.
Consider that Hershey boosted its 2012 guidance. It now believes that adjusted earnings will grow at 12% to14%, up from the prior estimate of 10% to 12%. It should also help that Hershey will get a lift from Halloween and Christmas.
While Hershey’s valuation is not cheap — at a price-to-earnings ratio of 24 — that’s reasonable in light of the company’s stability. This is definitely attractive in today’s volatile market.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.