Let's face it – the past six weeks have been particularly challenging as unprecedented restrictions on gatherings and travel have virtually ground the world to a halt in pursuit of slowing the spread of the deadly coronavirus. However, hope springs eternal this Easter holiday as many countries begin to flatten the curve of the virus and slow the rate of daily infections.

Amid a significant number of layoffs and furloughs rippling through vital sectors of the economy, many consumers are still expected to celebrate the holiday by purchasing a range of sweet treats. Indeed, the National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates around 80% of people to celebrate the holiday despite the ongoing health crisis. Although the trade group has decided not to disclose the results of its 2020 Easter spending survey conducted over the past few weeks, data from Statista shows that Americans have spent roughly $2.5 billion on Easter candy in each of the past three years.

Those who seek Easter-themed trading ideas should add these three leading candy stocks to their watchlist. Below, we take a closer look at each company and explore possible trade setups using technical analysis.

The Hershey Company (HSY)

The Hershey Company (HSY) manufactures and sells confectionery in North America and globally. Its popular selection of Easter candy includes Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, Hershey's Candy-Coated Easter Eggs, and Hershey's Easter Spring Favorites Assorted Chocolates. Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery double upgraded the chocolate maker last month to "overweight" from "underweight," noting that Hershey would likely benefit from increased consumer demand during the epidemic. The company's stock has a market value of $21.08 billion, offers a 2.19% dividend yield, and is trading 2.38% lower so far this year as of April 9, 2020.

Hershey shares slumped to a low of $109.88 in March, where the price found a floor of well-established support from a multi-year horizontal trendline. Since that time, the stock has made a V-shaped recovery and now trades above the neckline of a double top pattern. Those who take a long position at current levels should place a stop-loss order under the last three days of consolidation at $138.06 and book profits on a test of the topping pattern's high near $160.

Chart depicting the share price of The Hershey Company (HSY)
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Mondelez International, Inc. (MDLZ)

Headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Mondelez International, Inc. (MDLZ) produces and markets chocolates, gums, and candies, along with other snack food and beverage products. The $74.04 billion company sells a wide variety of Easter chocolate through brands such as Milka, Toblerone, and Cadbury. Stifel recently upgraded Mondelez stock from "buy" to "hold," saying that the confectionary firm may benefit from at-home consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 9, 2020, Mondelez stock issues a 2.20% dividend yield and has fallen 5.46% on the year.

The stock tested the top of a previous trading range during last month's intense sell-off before swiftly recovering. Over the past few trading sessions, the price has remained above a key level of resistance at $51 that may preempt a move to the February high at $59.60. Before executing a trade, consider waiting for a reversal candlestick pattern, such as a hammer or piercing line, to confirm a continuation of the bullish short-term momentum. Protect capital with a stop placed about two points below the entry price.

Chart depicting the share price of Mondelez International, Inc. (MDLZ)
StockCharts.com

Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (TR)

With a market cap of $2.31 billion, Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (TR) makes confectionery products primarily in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The 124-year-old candy maker boasts an impressive Easter range of goodies, including Tootsie Roll Eggs, Easter Basket Mix, Andes Bunnies, and Dubble Bubble Eggs. Over the past three years, the company's quarterly earnings have fluctuated within a range between 13 cents and 50 cents per share. Tootsie Roll stock has returned 12% year to date, outperforming the confectioners industry average by 16.43% over the same period as of April 9, 2020. Investors also receive a 0.95% dividend yield.

Tootsie Roll shares ground higher throughout March despite the S&P 500 Index posting steep losses. The move confirms a double bottom that formed a base near a three-year horizontal support line at $32. Those who expect the relative strength to continue should set a stop below the double bottom's neckline and use a trailing stop, such as a fast period moving average, to let profits run. Think about amending the stop to the break-even point if the stock closes above its all-time high at $39.22.

Chart depicting the share price of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (TR)
StockCharts.com