Candymaker Hershey ( HSY) posted a 20% uptick in first-quarter earnings, a figure bolstered by both a price increase and robust Easter sales.

Earnings for the quarter reached $75.9 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with $63.2 million or 28 cents a share in the year prior. Excluding restructuring costs, the company would have earned $86 million, or 38 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates of 34 cents a share.

Hershey says revenue rose 6.5% to nearly $1.24 billion from $1.16 billion a year ago. Higher prices, which were announced in August, and a longer Easter season partially offset unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates and volume declines, the company said in a statement.

The company beefed up its advertising during the quarter, working to regain market share from competitors like Mars, which acquired Wrigley in October.

On Wednesday Jim Cramer said he was bullish on Hershey in his "Mad Money Recap" .

The company said in a release that it stands by its forecast of 2% to 3% sales growth in 2009, but expects profits to fall below its long-term objective of 6% to 8% annual growth, as the higher costs for commodities like cocoa and sugar, rising pension costs and weak consumer spending dampens results.
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