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Hershey, the maker of Kit Kat and Twizzlers, posted disappointing sales for the first quarter reflecting soft US food trends, but reported adjusted earnings that topped analysts’ estimates.

The Pennsylvania-based company said profits slid to $125m or 58 cents per share, from $229.8m or $1.06 per share in the comparable year ago period. Adjusting for one-time items earnings of $1.31 a share, topped estimates of $1.25.

Sales rose nearly 3 per cent to $1.88bn, just shy of analysts estimates of $1.9bn and the company’s estimates. The weaker-than-expected figure was “reflective of the broader soft US food-industry retail trends to start the year,” and the timing of the Easter holiday, Michele Buck, chief executive, said.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects earnings in the high end of the $4.72 to $4.81 range, compared with Wall Street estimates of $4.78. Sales growth is expected to be around the low end of its 2 to 3 per cent range.

Shares in the company inched up 0.6 per cent in pre-market trading and are up 5 per cent so far this year.

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