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Hershey reports a ‘kiss’ of profit

BY Allison Cerra

HERSHEY, Pa. How sweet is it to be Hershey.

On Thursday, the confectionary giant announced that its first quarter net sales spiked 6.5% compared with the year-ago period. Earnings for the quarter were up almost 17.9% at $0.33 per share, compare with $0.28 per share during the first quarter 2008.

Hershey’s president and CEO David West said the sales boost was attributed to the company’s pricing action in 2008 and the longer Easter season. As for the remainder of the year, West’s outlook is line with the current economic climate.

“Despite the uncertainty related to volume declines due to pricing elasticity, we have confidence that earnings per share-diluted from operations will increase, but less than the long-term objective of 6 to 8%,” West said.

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Researchers conclude that pistachios benefit heart health

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW ORLEANS Despite a recent nationwide recall of pistachios amid a salmonella scare at a California processing plant, the nuts have a range of health benefits, according to a study by researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study, presented this week at Experimental Biology 2009 in New Orleans, indicates that the nuts can benefit cardiovascular health and blood sugar control and help spur weight loss.

The researchers randomly assigned overweight adults to follow diets for three months that eliminated 500 calories a day and add an afternoon snack of either 2 oz. of unsalted pretzels or 3 oz. of in-shell pistachios, totaling 220 and 240 calories, respectively. The subjects who ate pistachios lost a statistically significant amount of weight, enough to reduce body mass index from 30.88 to 28.84, equivalent to a weight loss of 10 to 12 pounds for most adults of average height. After six weeks, the subjects given pistachios also had significantly less fat in the bloodstream than those given pretzels.

When assigning subjects to another diet that included white bread alone, white bread with butter and cheese or white bread with 2 oz. of pistachios, the researchers found that pistachios blunted the body’s blood sugar response, delayed gastric emptying and increased levels of hormones that produce satiety.

“Our results are promising because they show that pistachios can be part of a successful weight loss program, and they provide the added benefits of helping to control blood lipids, like triglycerides and LDL cholesterol,” one of the researchers, named only Dr. Heber of UCLA, stated.

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Kimberly-Clark reports Q1 earnings

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS Kimberly-Clark reported Wednesday that its net sales for the first quarter ended March 31 decreased 6.6%.

The company disclosed that its earnings per share for the quarter was down 6% to $0.98, compared with $1.04, and adjusted earnings of $1.08 in the prior-year.

“Business conditions in the first quarter proved to be somewhat more challenging than we predicted earlier this year, with significant headwinds from weak global economies and volatile currency fluctuations impacting our results,” said Kimberly-Clark chairman and CEO Thomas Falk. “Despite the difficult environment, we made progress in several areas during the quarter. We continued to pursue our targeted growth initiatives and build our brands. We improved profitability in our Personal Care, Consumer Tissue and Health Care businesses, indicating that our focus on increasing margins is starting to pay off. We delivered continued double-digit organic top-line growth in developing and emerging markets. We also generated strong cash flow, including early benefits from our efforts to improve working capital. While this progress is encouraging, we are not yet where we need to be. We are committed to overcome the challenges facing us and deliver improved bottom-line results.”

The company also said that its organic line of products increased during the quarter, the company delivered double-digit organic sales growth in developing and emerging markets. The company anticipates organic sales growth of 1 to 2%.

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