Mattel Stock Surges; Barbie Sales Spike

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Mattel ( MAT) shares jumped Friday morning after the toymaker beat top-line expectations despite a 33% profit decline as Barbie sales spiked 14%.

Mattel said first-quarter revenue rose 8% but profits fell year-over-year as costs increased.

Mattel said it earned $16.6 million, or 5 cents per share, in the quarter, down from $24.8 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts expected Mattel to earn 4 cents per share in the quarter.


Net sales were $951.9 million, up from $880.1 million last year. The line item easily topped expectations for revenue of $903.7 million.

Mattel said worldwide gross sales for its Girls & Boys Brands business unit rose 15% to $656.4 million. Barbie sales worldwide rose 14%.

Mattel shares rose 4.6% to $26.91 in morning trading amid heavier-than-normal volume. Around 5 million shares were in play less than 90 minutes into the session, compared with their average daily volume of just 3.7 million. Rival Hasbro ( HAS) shares were 0.7% higher following an analyst upgrade.

On Thursday, Hasbro missed top- and bottom-line first-quarter expectations as costs rose and demand for its toys and games weakened in the period following the holiday shopping season.



Hasbro said early Thursday net earnings fell to 12 cents per share last quarter, down from 17 cents per share in the year-earlier period, missing expectations by a nickel.

Total revenue edged to $672 million, from $672.4 million, as retailers chose to clear excess inventory from the holiday shopping season rather than restock shelves with new orders from toymakers.

Hasbro, the maker of Nerf toys, Monopoly board games and, as of this year, the licensor for Sesame Street, attributed its weaker performance to increased spending on product development, investments in emerging markets, and new initiatives related to the children's television network The Hub, which it launched last fall as a joint venture with Discovery Communications ( DISCA).

Toy sales are expected to strengthen in 2011 as toymakers bet on new plush toys, digital updates to old classics and the return of an iconic relationship.

Mattel is banking on the ever-successful Barbie line of dolls and accessories, especially now that Ken is officially back in her life. Digital video recorders were added to Hot Wheels to rev up that line of cars. The release of the Cars 2 movie, complete with twice the number of characters and an international spy theme should also help boost sales.

Toy sales grew 2% in 2010 to $21.87 billion, according to the NPD Group, with online toy sales buoying results with a 22% surge. The strongest category was plush toys, which saw sales climb 18%, followed by building sets, which spiked 13%. Dolls and preschool toy sales increased 6%.

For Hasbro, the latest movie in the Transformers series is likely to be a boon. Older toy lines like Strawberry Shortcake were reinvigorated by the success of their affiliated television shows on the new kid network, The Hub, and toys, dolls and accessories are expected to benefit from renewed consumer awareness.

Many of the hottest toys of the year won't appear on the market till the fall, in time for the holiday shopping season.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Miriam Reimer.

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