Nerf, which makes a range of toy guns known as blasters that shoot foam projectiles, has been on a tear for Hasbro for over a year. Sales for Nerf rose a solid 13% last year, and jumped by a double-digit percentage again in the first quarter. According to Hasbro, Nerf was the best-performing brand from its vast portfolio.
Explaining the strength in Nerf in an era where kids play Angry Birds for hours on their iPad boils down to a constant stream of innovation for the brand and relatively affordable prices for the blasters.
"It's about the great innovation and really engaged fan base that we call Nerf Nation -- we inspire them to create the kinds of trick shots to get engaged," Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner told TheStreet in a Feb. 12 interview. Added Goldner, "We have a new lineup called Nerf Rival that is more paintball-like in that it has the circular projectiles, but it doesn't have the paint."
Nerf's new paintball-like blasters will look sweet in the hands of any kid peddling around in the company's recently launched Battle Racer peddle kart. The kart is priced at $249.99 and holds up to four blasters and extra projectiles, not to mention donning two cupholers to quench the thirst of five--year-olds locked in grueling Nerf battles.
TheStreet tested out the product and found it well made, easy to maneuver and likely a provider of hours of fun for those aged four to 10. On the downside, assembly was a little time-consuming, the steering mechanism had a propensity to slip out of its socket and the cupholders weren't deep enough to hold a bottle of water without spilling while doing battle.
But all in all, it's a must-have holiday season toy for any child with at least one Nerf blaster in the house.
Meanwhile, Nerf is nonetheless one component that drove Hasbro to a solid first quarter. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, net sales increased 20% year over year. Adjusted for one-time items, earnings per share rose 81%. Sales were led by 24% and 41% gains in Hasbro's boys and girls segments, respectively.
Top-selling products included none other than Star Wars, which benefited from Disney's (DIS - Get Report) newest cinema blockbuster smashing box office receipt records globally, as well as interest in Yahtzee, Nerf, Disney Princess, Frozen, and Play-DOH.
Hasbro shares have gained about 16% over the past year, outperforming the S&P 500's 3.4% decline.