Hershey Foods looks set to finish the year in style after publishing some solid financial results. This represents a slight turnaround in fortunes after disappointing results from the beginning of the year. The group's third quarter sales increased by 3.4 per cent, reflecting sales of instant consumables spurred by the Limited Edition Reese's products, as well as the impact of the price increase announced in December 2002. Earnings for the third quarter ending 28 September 2003 were up, with consolidated net sales of $1,191,019,000 compared with $1,152,321,000 for the third quarter of 2002. In addition, net income for the third quarter of 2003 was $143,604,000 compared with $123,065,000 for the comparable period of 2002. This strong performance reflected increased sales, improved margins, and higher returns for the business. "I'm particularly pleased with Hershey's third quarter results," said company chairman Richard H. Lenny. "This performance underscores the momentum that we're gaining behind our value- enhancing strategy. "During the quarter, we delivered solid sales and market share growth as we continue to reshape our product and brand portfolio. Equally as important, on-going productivity gains are providing the appropriate level of investment in both consumer and customer initiatives." Consolidated net sales for the first nine months of 2003 were $2,993,296,000 compared with $2,964,289,000 for the first nine months of 2002. Net income for the first nine months of 2003 was $312,646,000 compared with $273,258,000 for the comparable period of 2002. All this is good news for a company that reported slightly poor first quarter results. Sales were down compared to the same period of last year at $953 million (€871m), although net profits did increase from $87 million to $97 million. "Hershey's first quarter sales for 2003 were essentially flat on a comparable basis as a result of the buy-in associated with the price increase announced in December 2002 and continued rationalisation of the company's product line," the company said in a statement.