In a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Hershey today (20 April) reported a net income for the first quarter of US$121m, or 50 cents a share, an increase from $113, or 45 cents a share, for the same period last year.

This increase is on sales that remained virtually unchanged from the same period of last year at $1.18bn.

The chocolate and confectionary manufacturer said it expects its per share earnings for the 2006 full year to be somewhere above its 9% to 11% long-term expectations as it is expanding operating margins. Hershey also said it expects sales for the year to rise above its 3% to 4% long-term goal.

In FY 2005, Hershey reported earnings from operations of $567.m on sales of $4.84bn.