Hershey Co posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and is on target to meet its 2010 earnings forecast as it has been gaining market share in its main brands.

But it faces a tougher competitive landscape with Kraft Foods Inc set to acquire Cadbury and become the world's largest confectioner.

Hershey tried to assemble its own bid for Cadbury in an effort to expand outside the mature U.S. candy market. But in the end it never put forth a bid and Kraft sweetened its offer.

Hershey expects earnings before one-time items to rise 6 percent to 8 percent in 2010, the same as it forecast in October.

For the fourth quarter, the company reported earnings of 63 cents a share before one-time items. Analysts on average forecast 60 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters


(Reporting by Brad Dorfman; Editing by Derek Caney)