January 31, 2019 / 12:38 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Hershey's full-year profit tops estimate

(Adds FY forecast, details of results, background on acquisitions)

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Hershey Co forecast full-year profit largely above Wall Street expectations, as the maker of Kisses chocolate and Reese peanut buttercups benefits from a clutch of snacking brand acquisitions.

Hershey has been building up a portfolio of snack brands through acquisitions as consumers opt for healthy food over sugary candies and processed food.

The company bought cheese puff maker Pirate Brands for $420 million in September 2018, adding to its portfolio of snacks brands that includes SkinnyPop popcorn maker Amplify Snack Brands, beef jerky maker Krave and barkTHINS.

The Pennsylvania-based company forecast full-year adjusted profit to be in the range of $5.63 per share to $5.74 per share, the mid-point of which at $5.69 is above analysts' estimate of $5.65 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The candy maker also forecast full-year sales growth to be in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent in line with expectations.

However, Hershey reported quarterly sales and profit that narrowly missed estimates in the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.

Net income attributable to the company surged to $336.8 million, or $1.60 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $181.1 million, or 85 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Hershey earned $1.26 per share, missing analysts' estimate by one cent.

Sales rose 2.5 percent to $1.99 billion, but narrowly missed the average analyst estimate of $2 billion, according to Refinitiv data. (Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

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