Sales were driven by growth in core brands and new products and a 3.5% pricing increase, but were offset by declines in snack/refreshment brands.
Net income from operations was $150.9 million, or $0.66 per share-diluted, versus $200.5 million or $0.86 per share-diluted in 2007, a decrease of 23% in earnings per share-diluted.
However, the company stressed that first-half results were in line with expectations. Hershey continues to project net sales growth of 3% to 4% and earnings per share-diluted from operations of $1.85 to $1.90 for full-year '08.
Hershey, which has logged poor financial performance in recent years, last month announced a new strategy that includes major focus on increased investment in brand positioning and marketing for core brands in the U.S.
Sales, marketing and administrative costs for the first half were $516.6 million, up 19% from last year's first half. U.S. advertising and brand-building expenditures rose 30% in the second quarter.
The company plans a 20% increase in full-year advertising spend for both 2008 and 2009. Ad spend will reach at least $155 million this year.--Karlene Lukovitz