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Hershey Plans Growth Around Key Brands

Hershey Co. reaffirmed its full-year forecast and set its long-term financial goals Monday as it outlined plans to build its business around five key candy brands.

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) β€” Hershey Co. reaffirmed its full-year forecast and set its long-term financial goals Monday as it outlined plans to build its business around five key candy brands.

The company said it will invest in and expand its core brands β€” which include products such as Reese's Pieces, Hershey's Kisses and Jolly Ranchers β€” around the world. Hershey said it expects compounded annual sales growth of 5 percent to 7 percent between 2012 and 2017 and adjusted earnings-per-share growth of 8 percent to 10 percent.

Hershey's CEO John Bilbrey also expressed interest in acquisitions. While acquisitions are hard to predict, Bilbrey said he expects that between possible acquisitions and the company's own growth, Hershey's hopes to reach $10 billion in annual sales by the end of 2017.

"I'm optimistic and excited about our future. We are focused and know what we need to do to succeed. We have strong plans in place that will enable us to win wherever we compete," he said in a statement released in conjunction with a meeting the company held with analysts and investors.

Hershey reiterated its 2012 financial outlook, which it had raised several times previously.

The company expects to earn $3.11 to $3.17 per share on an adjusted basis for the year on revenue gains of 7 to 9 percent, which calculates to a range of about $6.51 billion to $6.62 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, expect that Hershey will earn $3.21 per share for the year on revenue of $6.58 billion.

Shares of the company, which is based in Hershey, Pa., fell $1.09 to close at $68.41.

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