Leading US confectioner Hershey Foods has reported a healthy rise in net profits in its second quarter ended 4 July.

Net income rose by 56 cents per share to US$147.2m in the period under review, up from $71.5m or 27 cents per share in the year-ago period.

Turnover in the quarter rose by 5.2% to $893.7m. For the first six months of 2004, consolidated net sales were $1.907bn compared with $1.802bn for the first half of 2003.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company attributed much of the improvement to the introduction of higher margin new products, such as the new caramel Kisses and Icebreakers Liquid Ice, and limited edition items.

The company also mentioned that it had several new products in the pipeline, and predicted above-target earnings growth over the full year. Target earnings are 9-11% growth over 2003 before exceptionals, with net sales growth slated at 3-4%.