Dolls behind Mattel's big earnings aren't Barbies

Newer brands such as Monster High and American Girl power the top toymaker to expectation-beating results.

By Jonathan Berr Apr 17, 2013 11:39AM
Monster High dolls by Mattel (© Mattel, Inc.)It's hard to figure out what's more surprising about Mattel's (MAT) quarter -- its better-than-expected financial performance or the fact that its iconic Barbie and Hot Wheels brands had little to do with it.

Net income at the El Segundo, Calif.-based company surged to $38.5 million, or 11 cents per share, fueled by robust demand for American Girl products and Monster High dolls (pictured). Sales rose 7% to $995.6 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 9 cents per share on revenue of $985.79 million.

For readers without kids, American Girl is a line of contemporary 8-inch dolls and accessories aimed at girls aged 8 and up. It includes "historical" dolls as well, such as Addy, whose story involves an escape from slavery in the 1860s. The Monster High line features the children of famous monsters.

Worldwide sales of American Girl rose 32% in the quarter, while sales of Mattel's Girls brands were up 56% because of the popularity of Monster High. Cost cuts also helped bolster the company's bottom line.

Barbie and Hot Wheels, though, posted lackluster results. The Barbie brand, which was first introduced in 1959, and the The Wheels category, which includes Hot Wheels and dates from 1968, each posted 2% declines.

Shares of Mattel rose $1.79, or 4.2%, to $44.68 in early Wednesday trading. They have gained more than 22% this year.

Still, the outlook for Mattel will remain tough given the challenging economic environment. Kids are also more eager to play on their parents' smartphones and tablets rather than with physical toys.

Hasbro (HAS), the No. 2 toymaker, is expected to report earnings next week.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Apr 17, 2013 3:37PM
"Kids are also more eager to play on their parents' smartphones and tablets rather than with physical toys."  Sad, these kids have no imagination whatsoever.  Technology training them for menial labor....
Apr 17, 2013 3:38PM
American Girl dolls are 18", not 8 as stated in the article.
Apr 17, 2013 12:39PM
should have known...even more thinner and anorexic than barbie.
Apr 18, 2013 12:25PM
American girl dolls are way to expensive! $125.00 per doll, $20. plus for a doll's outfit! It is time for Americans to stop this silly spending. Your neighbors child went to bed hungry last night. Oh please, buy your spoiled brat another doll / toy.
Apr 18, 2013 11:04AM
those aren't dolls, they're skeleton's with way too much make up.
Apr 18, 2013 12:51PM

Monster dolls are disgusting.  They send a poor message... just like the Bratz dolls.  Why are we allowing our children to idolize these things? 


They look like zombies or gothic anorexic monsters.  What message are they sending our kids.....

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