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posted higher fourth-quarter profit, thanks mostly to a tax gain, "despite a challenging retail environment."

The California-based toymaker reported net income of $284.3 million, or 68 cents a share, compared to last year's fourth-quarter net income of $213.9 million, or 49 cents a share. A tax settlement produced a one-time gain of approximately $65 million for the fourth quarter. Without it, the company earned 52 cents a share.

Analysts were expecting 48 cents a share on net income of $208.8 million, according to Thomson First Call.

"Despite a challenging retail environment, we finished the year with improved momentum," said Mattel. "We made good progress on two of our key goals for 2004 by invigorating the Barbie brand and building on our success in the learning category."

Overall, revenue rose 3% to $5.10 billion. U.S. sales were flat, while international sales rose 7%, including a positive effect from the weak dollar.

Worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were down 1%. Fisher-Price unit sales rose to $658.5 million.

Shares rose $1.35, or 7.4%, to $19.70.