Mattel holiday earnings disappoint

Barbie toys on display in Beijing. Mattel earnings for the holiday season disappointed the company and analysts. (Andy Wong / Associated Press / January 31, 2014)

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Mattel Inc.’s earnings during the all-important holiday season left Wall Street cold, suggesting that kids weren’t clamoring to be given toys.

The El Segundo company's net income was up 23%, rising to $1.07 a share, or $369.2 million, from 87 cents a share, or $306.5 million, a year earlier – a period that had been dampened by a massive litigation charge.

But the toy giant’s performance disappointed analysts, who had expected profit of $1.19 a share.

Revenue also fell short of projections, declining 6% to $2.11 billion and missing the $2.37-billion mark set by forecasters as well as Mattel’s own expectations.

Gross sales slipped 10% in the U.S., leading Chief Executive Bryan G. Stockton to indicate in a statement that the company would continue investing in emerging markets such as China and Russia.

In morning trading in New York, Mattel stock was down 9%, or $3.88, to $39.13 a share. So far this year, the stock is down nearly 10%.

One of the few bright spots in Mattel’s report was American Girl, which saw sales swing up 3%.

But Barbie, perhaps the company’s best-known brand, tanked 13%, as did Fisher-Price. The Hot Wheels toy car segment dipped 8%.

"By every account, 2013 was a challenging and transformative year at retail," Stockton said. 

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