Quarterly profits have again fallen at Hershey with the US confectionery giant today (24 April) posting a 35% slump in earnings.

Hershey booked underlying net income of US$83.9m for the three months to the end of March, down from $118.8m a year earlier.

Net income including charges linked to the overhaul of its global supply chain stood at $63.2m, down from $93.5m.

An early Easter and rising cocoa and milk costs hit Hershey’s profits, although the company saw sales inch up 0.6% to $1.2bn.

President and CEO Dave West said the result was “in line with expectations” and said investment throughout the business, including in new products and in expansion in Asia, would help Hershey.

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“Plans are in place to deliver our sales and earnings objectives,” West said. “Specifically, the launch of new products, increased levels of brand support, consumer investment, retail coverage and merchandising will continue to build throughout the year.”

He added: “We are encouraged by the development of our international investments and will continue to follow a disciplined approach to growth opportunities in emerging markets.”

Hershey reaffirmed its forecasts for 2008. The company expects net sales growth of 3-4% and underlying earnings per share of $1.85-1.90.