Mattel revenue beats on Barbie dolls, BTS K-pop band toys

(Reuters) - Mattel Inc (MAT.O) reported a surprise jump in quarterly revenue on Tuesday as newer models energized demand for its flagship Barbie brand, while the launch of dolls based on Korean pop-sensation BTS lifted international sales.

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Worldwide Barbie gross sales rose 10% to $412.8 million in the third quarter, while analysts had expected a 1.2% drop on fears that demand would ease in the run-up to the release of the Disney princess movie “Frozen 2”, the doll rights to which are owned by Hasbro Inc (HAS.O).

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Mattel’s international gross sales rose 10% to $721.7 million, lifted by sales of dolls based on Korean boy band BTS, which has dominated international music charts for over a year.

BTS and Barbie, which has been modernized with variants of based on popular celebrities, role models, different skin tones and professions, helped lift worldwide doll sales by 5%.

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“The story around BTS shows how we’re able to capture cultural trends and commercialize them,” Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz told Reuters.

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Mattel, unlike rival Hasbro, said it was not seeing any cancellations by its retail partners ahead of a Dec.15 U.S. tariff deadline on Chinese toy imports.

“At this stage, we are not seeing any impact from tariffs and we don’t expect anything this year,” Kreiz said, adding consumer sentiment was strong heading into the crucial holiday season.

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Hasbro missed quarterly profit estimates earlier this month, blaming higher shipping and warehousing costs from the uncertainty around tariffs.

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Mattel’s total quarterly net sales rose 3% to $1.48 bln from a year earlier year, while analysts had expected a fall of 0.5%.

Third-quarter profit rose to $70.6 million, or 20 cents per share, from $6.3 million, or 2 cents per share, also helped by an about 50% drop in provision for income taxes.

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Excluding items, Mattel earned 26 cents per share. Analysts had expected a profit of 16 cents per share, but it was not immediately clear if the number were comparable.