HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. hopes to reach $10 billion in net sales by 2017 behind acquisitions and brand growth from its Hershey’s, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers brands. The company had net sales of $6.1 billion in fiscal 2011.

“Our organization is energized and believes in the potential and capabilities of our people, brands and processes,” said John P. Bilbrey, president and chief executive officer. “In addition, our solid operating cash flow and the strength of our balance sheet enable us to participate in value-enhancing strategic acquisitions. While acquisitions are difficult to predict, combined with solid organic growth, we have aspirational goals of reaching $10 billion in net sales by the end of 2017. I’m optimistic and excited about our future. We are focused and know what we need to do to succeed. We have strong plans in place that will enable us to win wherever we compete.”

Mr. Bilbrey’s comments came in advance of the company’s investor conference in New York.

“Our marketplace and financial results over the last few years validate our consumer-driven approach to core brand investment in both U.S. and key international markets,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “We’ll continue to invest in tools and capabilities that will drive core brand growth. We’re excited about the insights we’ll obtain from the additional work currently under way on Hershey’s confectionery demand landscape that is focused on the individual segments of chocolate, non-chocolate candy and refreshment in the U.S. and key international markets. Our Insights Driven Performance initiative has been embraced by retailers who value the solutions-based methods that drive mutual growth for the confectionery category and Hershey. We are creating a knowledge-based company built on intellectual capital and consumer and shopper insights. This collaborative approach has unique features within the confectionery space and differentiates Hershey from its peers.”

The company said it is affirming its outlook for full-year 2012 net sales growth of about 7% to 9% and full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share growth of 10% to 12%. The company expected reported diluted e.p.s. for 2012 to be between $2.82 to $2.92 per share and an adjusted diluted e.p.s. between $3.11 and $3.17 per share.