Toymaker Mattel Inc. (MAT) shares are surging after-hours Thursday, April 26, after beating analyst expectations for first-quarter earnings and posting a surprising gross sales increase for its Barbie brand — a whopping 29% uptick in North America and 24% worldwide.
Overall net sales fell 4%, while worldwide gross sales increased 2%. Net sales fell 5% in North America following the Toys 'R' Us Inc. bankruptcy. Overall, net sales totaled $708 million — higher than analyst projections of $688 million, according to Factset.
"Mattel delivered positive sales growth in the first quarter, excluding the impact of the Toys "R" Us liquidation," incoming CEO Ynon Kreiz said in a statement. "And we continue to see strong momentum in our key Power Brands, with Barbie and Hot Wheels each up double-digits."
Kreiz, a Mattel board member and former media executive, will succeed CEO Margo Georgiadis, whose abrupt exit was announced just last week. Industry experts speculate that under Kreiz, the board will revisit the possibility of selling the company because he had sold two companies to Walt Disney Co. (DIS) : Fox Kids Group Europe and Marker Studios.
As Barbie increased sales by a healthy margin, toy car brand Hot Wheels also performed well: sales increased 15% globally. Not every Mattel brand delivered, however. American Girl sales dropped 21%, while Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends fell 8%.
In the quarters to come, Kreiz will likely execute the turnaround plan that Georgiadis set in place last year, B. Riley FBR analyst Susan Anderson told TheStreet's sister publication The Deal last week.
Georgiadis's plans called for cutting $650 million in costs between 2017 and 2019 by reducing the workforce, eliminating certain products and suspending the dividend.
"Mattel's reasoning for hiring [Kreiz] was that he's familiar with Margo's work and vision. He could carry out her strategy," Anderson said.
When Mattel is ready to enter the auction block, possible buyers include media companies like Disney or Netflix Inc. (NFLX) , sources said, as well as Hasbro Inc. (HAS) , a long-rumored prospect. Reports of a merger between the two toymakers emerged late last year but it has yet to materialize.
Mattel closed at $13.98 Thursday.