* Q3 adj EPS $0.79 meets Wall Street view
* Sales up 4.2 pct to $1.55 bln
* Sees adj 2010 EPS $2.52-$2.56, up from prior forecast
* Sees adj 2011 EPS $2.67-$2.76 (Rewrites, adds analysts’ estimates, details on sales; changes headline)
NEW YORK, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Hershey Co (HSY.N) raised its 2010 earnings outlook on Thursday and said Halloween sales were off to a good start.
The maker of Hershey’s Kisses, Kit Kat bars and Reese’s peanut butter cups said it now expects 2010 earnings of $2.52 to $2.56 per share excluding one-time items, compared to a prior forecast of $2.47 to $2.52 per share and analysts’ estimate of $2.53 per share.
It also forecast 2011 earnings of $2.67 to $2.76 per share excluding items, which it said reflects growth within its long-term target. Analysts were looking for $2.74 per share.
For the third quarter, which ended on Oct. 3, Hershey said net income was $180.2 million, or 78 cents per share, up from $162.0 million, or 71 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, earnings were 79 cents per share, in line with analysts’ average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales rose 4.2 percent to $1.55 billion, driven by increased sales volume of its core U.S. brands and growth in its emerging market businesses. Analysts were expecting sales of $1.56 billion.
The company also cited benefits from a price increase in Canada put through in July 2009 and foreign currency exchange rates.
Fourth-quarter net sales will be greater than previously expected, Hershey said, due to a shift in the timing of some shipments, which reduced sales in the third quarter by one percentage point. Yet, the company said full-year net sales should still grow about 7 percent. (Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman)