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Hershey Company (HSY) to Introduce Cookie Layer Crunch

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Leading chocolate maker The Hershey Company (HSY - Free Report) will introduce Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch in honor of the National Cookie Month – October. This range will be launched at the National Association of Convenience Stores annual show from Oct 18-21, in Atlanta, GA. The crunch bars will be available at retail stores nationally starting Dec 2016.

Cookie Layer Crunch products will be available in three flavors: Caramel, Vanilla Crème and Mint. The company believes this range is one of its most innovative launches in more than 16 years. Hershey has designed the Cookie Layer Crunch bars keeping in mind the shift in consumer snack preferences from traditional to multi-textural. This latest product is a reinterpretation of the classic Hershey’s bar with a twist.

Hershey regularly innovates to meet changing consumer preferences. Innovation contributed about 1.5 points to Hershey’s net sales increase on an annual basis over the last several years and is also expected to add 1% over the long term.

This latest launch is in line with the company’s strategy to create a unique and holistic portfolio for every season, which can meet consumers’ seasonal shopping needs. In 2016, the company is shifting focus to snacks and has launched items like Reese’s Snack Mix and Hershey’s Snack Bites canister. The Apr 2016 acquisition of New York-based barkTHINS premium chocolate snacking brand will also build on the company’s better-for-you snacks portfolio.

Investors should keep in mind that Hershey’s second-quarter 2016 net sales of $1.64 billion beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.7% as favorable timing of shipments boosted sales in North America. Adjusted earnings of 85 cents per share rose 9% year over year given higher volumes, lower tax rate and lower share count.

Hershey currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked stocks in the consumer staples sector include ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG - Free Report) , The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC - Free Report) and McCormick & Company, Inc. (MKC - Free Report) .

All the three companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

ConAgra Foods’ fiscal 2017 earnings are expected to increase 16.3%. Meanwhile, fiscal 2016 earnings for Kraft Heinz are expected to increase 8.9% while that of McCormick’s is likely to improve 48%.

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