Think back to those halcyon days of summer, when we thought Bear Stearns was going to be the worst thing to happen in the credit crisis, before Fannie (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie (NYSE:FRE) moved back in with dad, before "Lehman" became a word whispered in the hushed tones reserved for the dear departed, back when our biggest concern was oil prices. Five-dollar gas doesn’t seem so scary now that the Dow is crumbling, AIG belongs to the government and $700 billion dumped into the financial system did little to halt the downward progress of every stock you own. Those were nice days.
But in June, when we still believed the credit crisis was just going to mean a couple of years of unpleasant quarterly reports from the financial sector, The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) was hitting a 52-week low. The company bottomed at $32.31 as analysts (and the rest of us, too) speculated on the company’s profit margins, what with the rising cost of commodities like cocoa, sugar and soy lecithin.
Hershey insisted it still saw a 3%-4% sales growth, which, at the time, we didn’t believe. But the company has kept on target with an 11% increase in prices, and a lot of penny-pinching in the production side. Hershey renewed the faith of its followers by holding its dividend at 30 cents in August. And HSY saw a nice pop from rumors it was in talks to sell to Swiss mega-brand Nestle (NSRGY.PK).
The stock is on a nice dip right now, making it the perfect time to snap up shares on the cheap. But if you do buy in, watch the price carefully. If HSY falls below its most recent bottom of $36.09, sell out. Dipping below its adjusted bottom means its momentum is no longer strong enough to defy the market.
With that being said, Hershey may end up being the perfect recession investment. Chocolate is still cheaper than alcohol, and you won’t get fired for consuming an entire container of Kisses at work.