Mattel shares soar after strong Barbie sales fuel surprise profit


Strong sales of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars fueled Mattel’s profits in the fourth quarter, sending shares soaring more than 15 percent after the closing bell Thursday.

Mattel reported net income of $14.9 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with a loss of $281.3 million, or 82 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected the company to post a loss of 16 cents during the quarter, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue fell 5.4 percent to $1.52 billion, but was still outpaced analysts’ estimates of $1.44 billion.

“Our fourth quarter results demonstrate meaningful progress in executing our strategy and significant improvement over last year,” Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel, said in a statement Thursday. “We remain focused on advancing our strategy to restore profitability and regain top-line growth in the short-to-mid-term and are laying the groundwork to capture the full value of our IP in the mid-to-long-term.”

Sales of Barbie reached a five-year high, as sales jumped 12 percent during the quarter. This is the fifth-consecutive quarter of growth for the doll brand.

Hot Wheels toys also performed well during the holiday quarter, rising 9 percent.

Mattel has struggled previously with weak sales of iconic brands such as American Girl and Fisher-Price. In recent years, more children have gravitated toward video games and electronics instead of traditional toys. It was also hit hard by the bankruptcy of Toys R Us.

In the fourth quarter, sales of American Girl dolls fell 27 percent and sales of Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends were down 13 percent.

Under Kreiz, Mattel has embraced a two-pronged strategy aimed at turning around the troubled toy maker. To start, Kreiz has worked to cut $650 million in costs, a combination of laying off 2,200 workers and shuttering its New York office.

Kreiz has also hoped to revive sales by creating a film department to bring its famous toy properties to the big screen. In January, the company announced it had tapped Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad,” “I, Tonya”) to play Barbie and revealed it would produce a live-action Hot Wheels film.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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