Hershey Foods Corp. yesterday [Thursday] announced losses of US$45m, or 33 cents per share in the fourth quarter of last year.

However, once stripped of one-time items, the results make more positive reading. Excluding these items, which include heavy investment in reducing payroll and inventory costs, Hershey would have earned US$127m, or 92 cents per share. This compares positively with the US$116m, or 84 cents per share, posted during the same period in 2000.

“We’re pleased with our strong financial performance in 2001,” said Richard H. Lenny, chief executive officer of Hershey. “We’ve made good progress executing our new strategic direction, turning in solid operational improvements and consistent market share gains.”

The group’s all-important net revenue rose from US$1.2bn in the comparable quarter in 2000 to US$1.3bn.

Hershey is well into a large-scale savings programme, with much of the savings earmarked for reinvestment in marketing activities.