Hershey (HSY) - Get Report shares found the sweet spot Thursday, climbing 5.1% to $123, after the confectionery company beat Wall Street's first-quarter earnings expectations. 

The Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company reported net income of $304.4 million, or $1.45 a share, down from $350.2 million, or $1.65 a share, a year ago, but ahead of analysts' estimates of $1.46 a share.

Sales totaled $2.02 billion, up from $1.97 billion a year ago, and beat forecasts of $2 billion.

Hershey's North America net sales were $1.8 billion, up 3.2% from a year ago. Hershey's U.S. candy, mint and gum retail takeaway decreased 6%, resulting in a market share loss of about 20 basis points from a year ago. These results were driven by a late Easter season and were in-line with expectations, the company said.

For the year, Hershey said it expects earnings of $5.50 to $5.56 a share and adjusted earnings of $5.63 to $5.74 a share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet are looking for earnings of $5.64 a share.

Full-year reported net sales are expected to increase 1% to 3%.

The company provides its products primarily under such brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Kisses, Jolly Rancher, Almond Joy, Brookside, Cadbury, and Good & Plenty.

"Our year has gotten off to a strong start and we are on track to deliver our financial commitments," Michele Buck, Hershey president and CEO, said in a statement. "We remain committed to delivering balanced growth today, while making key investments in our brands, capabilities and people to take the business to the next level in the future."