(Adds analysts comment)
Dec 21 U.S. chocolate maker Hershey Co
named Chief Operating Officer Michele Buck as its chief
executive and president, pinning its hopes on a company veteran
to build on a recovery in demand in North America.
Buck, whose appointment is effective March 1, will succeed
John Bilbrey, who said in October he would retire as CEO and
Buck, who joined Hershey in 2005, was the architect of the
company's expansion into broader snacking categories and oversaw
the acquisitions of Krave and barkThins brands, the company said
The maker of Hershey's Kisses, which rejected a $23 billion
offer from Mondelez International Inc in August, had
said Bilbrey will continue as the non-executive chairman.
Buck's promotion should not come as a surprise to investors,
J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman wrote in a client note.
Observers looking for deeper changes in Hershey's direction
and/or culture probably were hoping for more of an outsider to
take over, Goldman said. "The writing was on the wall when Ms.
Buck was promoted to COO earlier this year."
Hershey said in October consumers were beginning to spend a
little bit more confidently than before, with the company
introducing new products to overcome weak demand in North
America due to changing consumer tastes and growing competition.
Buck may also have to contend with the plans of the
charitable trust that controls Hershey. The trust in July
reached a major reform agreement with its overseer, the
Pennsylvania attorney general's office.
Up to Wednesday's close of $103.17, the stock had fallen 7.6
percent since Hershey rejected Mondelez's offer in August.
Hershey shares were marginally down in extended trading.
(Reporting by Aravind K and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru;
Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)