Los Angeles Business Journal

Doll Demand Boosts Mattel’s Quarter

By Deborah Crowe Originally published January 31, 2012 at 10:39 a.m., updated January 31, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.

Mattel Inc.’s fourth quarter profit rose a better-than-expected 14 percent as the El Segundo company saw strong holiday demand for Barbie and its other dolls. But challenges at its Fisher-Price unit dampened revenue growth.

The nation’s largest toymaker on Tuesday reported net income of nearly $371 million ($1.07 a share), compared with $325 million (89 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Net revenue rose 1 percent to $2.15 billion, with a 2 percent decline in U.S. sales offset by 5 percent growth overseas.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet on average expected profit of $1 a share on net revenue of $2.22 billion.

Barbie sales overall increased 6 percent, American Girl was up 4 percent, and the company’s Wheels unit, which includes the Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands, rose 5 percent. But sales at the Fisher-Price segment, which makes toys for pre-schoolers, dropped 10 percent.

For the full year, Mattel’s net income rose 12 percent to nearly $769 million ($2.18) on 7 percent higher revenue of $6.27 billion. The company raised its annual dividend by 35 percent, and will pay a dividend of 31 cents a share on March 9.

"Mattel delivered another strong year, our third consecutive year of solid performance, which I am especially pleased about given the soft global economic backdrop and the highly promotional environment, particularly in the U.S.," said Bryan Stockton in a statement. Stockton became chief executive officer on Jan. 1, replacing Robert Eckert, who retired.

The company announced that its $680 million acquisition of HIT Entertainment, the company that makes Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, is expected to close on Wednesday

Shares closed up $1.47, or nearly 5 percent, to $31 on the Nasdaq.