NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The following stocks go ex-dividend Wednesday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Tuesday to qualify for the next dividend payment: Hershey ( HSY), Carnival ( CCL), Allergan ( AGN), Limited Brands ( LTD), Avista ( AVA), Healthcare Services Group ( HCSG), Mineral Technologies ( MTX), Nu Skin ( NUS) and Robert Half International ( RHI). Each of the stocks received a buy rating from TheStreet Ratings.
Hershey The chocolate company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $142.1 million, or 62 cents a share, up from year-ago earnings of $135.5 million, or 59 cents. "We lower our 1Q12 EPS estimate from $0.83 to $0.78. Key elements of our forecast are: 1) Organic sales growth of +5.5% with volume -2.5% and price/mix +8%. HSY forecasts volumes to be down in the first quarter as pricing flows through," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a Feb. 2 report. "This will be the first quarter with pricing implemented on seasonal product; 2) We forecast gross margin of 42%, a sequential improvement versus last quarter, as pricing and cost savings help mitigate higher input costs. Looking ahead, gross margin is expected to sequentially improve and be up +75bps for the year with improved price realization; 3) We forecast SG&A as a % of sales to be 23.5% of sales as HSY boosts advertising spend behind new products and seasonal; 4) Below the line, we forecast interest expense of $25.4m, a tax rate of 36% and shares outstanding of 229m." Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.5% Rated "A- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's fourth-quarter gross profit margin decreased from the prior year. Hershey has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.93, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs. In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 3.28% from the prior year. TheStreet Ratings' price target is $74.54. The stock closed Friday at $60.86 and has fallen 1.49% year to date.