Mattel's Profit Edges Higher

Shares of toymaker Mattel ( MAT) were moving higher in Monday trading after the company said second-quarter earnings increased from the prior year and beat analysts' estimates by a penny.

Net earnings rose to $23.5 million, or 6 cents a share, from $20.9 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier. Wall Street was expecting Mattel to earn 5 cents a share, according to analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company said sales increased 5% to $804 million from $769 million last year.

Shares of Mattel were lately up 64 cents, or 3.8%, at $17.40. The stock closed Friday at $16.76, just above its 52-week intraday low of $16.55 reached July 13.

"The second quarter was consistent with our expectations that 2004 will be a challenging year," the company said in a statement. "To improve long term performance, we are acutely focused on addressing the top line by reinvigorating the Barbie brand and capitalizing on the positive momentum of our electronic learning strategy."

Barbie sales worldwide fell 13% in the quarter, while sales in the company's entertainment unit increased 31%. Core Fischer-Price sales increased 12% and Hot Wheels sales were up 37%.

On Friday, Mattel's main rival Hasbro ( HAS) reported a higher second-quarter profit from the year earlier but said sales fell slightly. There is concern that the increased popularity of video games, aggressive pricing from discounters like Wal-Mart ( WMT) and dependence on a small amount of mass merchandisers will hurt toy retailers in the near term.

Shares of Hasbro were recently down 16 cents to $17.80, near their 52-week intraday low of $17.15 hit on May 17.

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