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Halloween trick-or-treating to soften Hershey’s supply chain troubles

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October 27, 2021

By Mehr Bedi

(Reuters) – With costumed trick-or-treaters raring to go door to door this year after a pandemic-ridden 2020, candy maker Hershey Co is expected to bump up its annual sales forecast even as supply chain bottlenecks plague the industry.

Hershey has about 70% of its manufacturing capacity in the United States, and that is expected to help it deliver its Kisses and Reese’s in time for what is expected to be the biggest Halloween in terms of spending.

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The period around the October holiday is Hershey’s busiest time of the year, making up about 10% of the company’s annual sales.

Graphic – Halloween spending forecasts over the years: https://graphics.reuters.com/HERSHEY-RESULTS/byprjramape/chart.png

Consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, compared with $8.05 billion spent in 2020.

“There’s going to be a lot of pent-up demand this Halloween, because many people couldn’t celebrate last year. Coupled with that, in general the consumer is in a very healthy position and vaccination rates have been growing,” CFRA analyst Arun Sundaram said.

THE CONTEXT

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Growing global supply chain issues and worker shortages triggered by the pandemic have hurt packaged food makers. The companies are also taking a hit to their margins due to soaring prices of commodities such as sugar, cocoa beans, wheat and edible oils.

“Hershey would have an easier time navigating the (supply chain) crisis given that the company has less complexities in its supply chain compared to other packaged food companies who have a more global presence,” Sundaram added.

NRF data suggests more U.S. consumers are ready to celebrate Halloween this year after a year of limited trick-or-treating.

THE FUNDAMENTALS

** Analysts forecast annual revenue of $8.82 billion for Hershey, which will report quarterly results before markets open on Thursday

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** Full-year adjusted profit is estimated to be $6.91 per share

Graphic – Hershey likely to bump annual sales forecast on record Halloween spend: https://graphics.reuters.com/HERSHEY-RESULTS/jnvwewozlvw/chart.png

WALL STREET SENTIMENT

** The current average analyst rating for Hershey is “hold”, with a median price target of $185.00

** The company’s shares have risen nearly 20% this year

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QUARTER STARMINE REFINITIV IBES ACTUAL BEAT, SURPRI

ENDING SMARTESTIMATE® ESTIMATE  MET, SE %

MISSED

Jun. 30 2021 1.42 1.43 1.47 Beat 3

Mar. 31 2021 1.79 1.80 1.92 Beat 6.7

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Dec. 31 2020 1.42 1.43 1.49 Beat 4.5​

Sep. 30 2020 1.72 1.72 1.86 Beat 8.3

(Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Shounak Dasgupta)

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‘Flash mob’ thieves target U.S. retail stores on Black Friday

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November 28, 2021

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Black Friday shoppers weren’t the only ones out hunting for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. Thieves were busy as well.

Police in Los Angeles and cities elsewhere across the country spent much of their holiday weekend patrols looking for suspects in a spate of “flash mob” robberies on Friday, part of a surging U.S. crime trend in which groups of thieves swarm a store, ransack the shelves and flee.

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Authorities also have used the term “smash-and-grab” to describe the trend.

At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.

In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.

According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.

“We tried to stop them,” store employee Luis Romo told KTTV. “We closed the front entrance, and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

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The Los Angeles City News Service said four suspects in that robbery were arrested on Saturday by Beverly Hills police.

In a similar incident Friday afternoon, a group of 10 men or more invaded a store in the city’s Fairfax district and started grabbing merchandise without paying for it, pushing employees out of the way before fleeing the scene, according to LAPD.

Police are investigating possible ties between that incident and a flurry of other robberies and retail thefts on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The rash of retail crime prompted the LAPD to place its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon.

Mass robberies also were reported on Friday at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of them involving as many as 30 suspects, while a spree of pre-dawn retail burglaries were under investigation in Chicago.

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In one of the biggest flash-mob robberies reported on the West Coast in recent days, police in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek were seeking about 80 suspects who swarmed and ransacked a department store last Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)

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U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

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November 27, 2021

By Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

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Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

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Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

(Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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