Hershey reported an increase in sales of 5.3 percent. Net sales rose to $1.25 billion compared to $1.19 billion for the same period last year, while net income was up to $16.6 million or $0.66 per diluted share in comparison with $14.3 million in 2003.
The group attributed its successes in the face of climbing commodity costs to "productivity improvement throughout the supply chain and favorable pricing".
"Our performance during the third quarter was very strong," said Richard Lenny, Hershey's CEO. "Innovative, on-trend new products and well-executed retail initiatives delivered excellent sales and market share gains. This above-trend sales growth combined with tight cost control yielded record profitability."
He added that he expected net sales growth for the full year to be above the group's 3-4 percent long-term objective.
The beginning to the year had been less bright with first quarter sales at the group down slightly compared to the same period of last year at $953 million (€871m) - although net profits increased 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 had said in a statement at the time.
This week, Lenny expressed his general satisfaction at the steady progress made during the first nine months of this year.
"During the first nine months of 2003, Hershey's performance has been balanced and consistent with solid gains in sales, consumer takeaway and profiability," he concluded.