Barbie and American Girls make comeback at Mattel

Toy maker Mattel Inc. showed signs of a turnaround in its third quarter, with several of its key brands on the upswing.

For the three months that ended Sept. 30, the El Segundo firm posted net income of $236 million, up 6% from $224 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, the toy company reported 68 cents, compared with 66 cents a year earlier.

“We continue to make some very good progress,” Chief Executive Christopher Sinclair said during a Wednesday call with analysts. “We continue to see real strength in our core brands.”

Worldwide sales came in at $1.8 billion, essentially flat compared with a year earlier.

Sinclair said that the third-quarter showed that Mattel’s turnaround efforts were energizing sales after years of lackluster performance.

In January, for instance, Mattel announced three new body types for Barbie — petite, curvy and tall — and seven new skin tones to better reflect the diversity of women. Last month, the toy maker said that it was opening nearly 100 American Girl mini-shops inside Toys R Us locations in an attempt to reach a wider customer base.

So far, those changes appear to be working.

In the third quarter, worldwide sales rose 14% for American Girl and 16% for Barbie. Sales of its infant and toddler brand Fisher-Price as well as Hot Wheels and Matchbox jumped 6%.

Sinclair said that the latest results have boosted Mattel’s confidence as the crucial holiday season approaches. Sinclar took over as CEO after the company fired its former chairman and chief executive, Bryan Stockton, in January.

Mattel also brought back Richard Dickson, who was credited with Barbie’s last surge in popularity around 2010, as chief operating officer. Analysts have credited Dickson with injecting innovation back into the company that had become known for its bureaucracy.

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