- The Hershey Co. announced it will officially pull out of the 2016 Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in lieu of hosting its own analyst day later next year.
- The announcement has led to speculation involving "the fate of CEO. J.P. Bilbrey and whether the company will participate in the growing industry trend toward consolidation," Robert Moskow of Credit Suisse wrote in a report.
- Hershey has named sales veteran Rob Gehring as its global chief sales officer, effective Jan. 18. Gehring has been president, Walmart Global Team for Coca-Cola North America since 2011.
While any sale or merger may not be on the table, Moskow speculated the new CEO possibility, specifically an outsider who may adjust the company's cost structure.
"Most companies decide to bring in an outside CEO when they know they have to make the painful decision to cut costs and reverse strategy. In an environment where Kraft, Heinz and others keep raising the benchmark for operational efficiency in the consumer staples space, the board certainly must recognize that Hershey needs to make bigger adjustments," Moskow wrote in his report.
Hershey's earnings tumbled 31% in its latest quarter due to lagging sales and rising costs for ingredients, including dairy and cocoa, and U.S. retail sales for candy, mint, and gum missed expectations. This came after a 1.8% uptick in net sales in North America the quarter before, when sales overall were flat.