Mattel Posts 4Q Profit Above Views

Helped by growing demand for its boys and girls toy brands, Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) said on Wednesday that its stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit edged 1% higher, leading the company to declare a cash dividend.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company posted net income of $325.2 million, or 89 cents a share, compared with $328.4 million, or 89 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, beating the Street’s view of 86 cents.

Revenue for the maker of toys, including Barbie Dolls, was $2.12 billion, up 9% from $1.96 billion a year ago, just ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $2.09 billion.

“I am pleased with our strong results for the quarter and the year, with revenue growth across brands and markets, and improved profitability,” said Mattel CEO Robert Eckert.

Sales were fueled by 11% growth in the U.S., helped by a 6% gain in international markets, partially offset by unfavorable impacts from exchange rates.

By segment, sales grew 9% to $1.27 billion in Mattel Girls & Boys brands, up 6% to $775.8 million in Fisher-Price brands, and 8% to $273.2 million in its American Girl segment.

Given the strong performance, Mattel’s board declared a first-quarter dividend of 23 cents a share, payable on March 11 to shareholders of record on Feb. 24.

Eckert highlighted the company’s 2011 priorities, including accelerating performance by implementing a new organizational structure, uncovering the next layer of strategic cost cutting initiatives, generating cash flow, and deploying capital in a “disciplined and opportunistic manner.”