Mattel sales beat estimates as Barbie shines

Markets Reuters

Mattel Inc , the largest U.S. toymaker, reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, driven by strong demand for its flagship Barbie and Fisher-Price brands.

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Mattel's shares rose about 6 percent to $32.39 in extended trading.

Barbie's worldwide sales increased 15.8 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 as Mattel's efforts to revive sales of its signature brand gained traction.

In January, Mattel rolled out Barbie dolls in a variety of skin tones, hairstyles and outfits and in three new body shapes - tall, curvy and petite - to appeal to a larger demographic.

The launch of the new range followed two years of declining sales of Barbie dolls around the world as girls increasingly turn to other dolls, electronic toys and tablets.

The company had also changed its marketing strategy to position its dolls as more than a pretty face, with ad campaigns such as "You Can Be Anything" highlighting the potential of women in various professions.

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Fisher-Price and the Wheels category, which includes Hot Wheels, were also bright spots for Mattel in the third quarter, with sales rising about 6 percent each.

Sales of its American Girl products were up 14 percent, compared with a 2 percent decline a year earlier.

Mattel in August announced a multi-year partnership with retailer Toys "R" Us Inc to have retail units of American Girl dolls and accessories in its stores.

"While we still have a critical fourth quarter to execute, we remain broadly on track to deliver on our full-year outlook," Chief Executive Christopher Sinclair said in a statement on Wednesday.

���El Segundo, California-based Mattel's revenue rose to $1.80 billion from $1.79 billion. Analysts on average had expected $1.77 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income rose to $236.3 million, or 68 cents per share, from $223.8 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 70 cents per share, a cent below the average analyst estimate.

(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)