Hershey Co. posted stronger-than-expected earnings for its first quarter and raised guidance for the full year on an expected jump in consumer mobility as the COVID-19 vaccine push continues and is expected to boost chocolate sales in North America. The company said it had net income of $395.8 million, or $1.90 a share, in the quarter, up from $271.1 million, or $1.29 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $1.92, well ahead of the $1.80 FactSet consensus. Sales rose 12.7% to $2.296 billion, also ahead of the $2.111 billion FactSet consensus. “As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the globe, consumers are optimistic about the future and looking forward to spending more time with their family, friends and community,” Chief Executive Michele Buck said in a statement. The company is now raising its guidance for 2021 and expects sales to grow 4% to 6%, up from earlier guidance of up 2% to 4%. It expects EPS to range from $6.64 to $6.86 and for adjusted EPS to range from $6.79 to $6.92. The FactSet consensus is for full-year EPS of $6.75. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 4% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 11.4%.

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