Hershey Co. is confident that consumers will want to take their kids trick-or-treating this Halloween despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "It is an outdoor event. And it's an event where a lot of masks are already worn," said Michelle Buck, Hershey's chief executive on the company's recent second-quarter earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript. "There's no evidence of the virus being passed through packaging or food, so we feel pretty good based on what we're seeing so far from consumer feedback." Hershey reported a profit that beat expectations, but sales fell short. Hershey has already started shipping Halloween orders, Buck said, with shipments continuing through early October. Hershey didn't provide 2020 guidance due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and Buck leaves the door open for a shift between now and Halloween. "[I]f trick-or-treat tends to be a little lower than expectation, clearly, we'll focus even more on the treat for me and the candy bowl occasion," she said. About half of the Halloween product sold is for "self-consumption," and some of the product has already shifted to "everyday packaging." Stifel analysts think that most of the orders for Halloween are set, but will still keep an eye on developments given the surge in coronavirus cases and lockdown measures. Analysts note that Halloween accounts for 10% of the company's sales and 40% of third-quarter sales. Stifel rates Hershey stock hold with a $140 price target. Hershey stock is down 0.3% for the year to date while the S&P 500 index is up 0.3% for the period.
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