Mattel falls as Barbie loses popularity

Analysts aren't too worried, since the first quarter is the least relevant of the year for the toy industry.

By Kim Peterson Apr 16, 2012 8:03PM
Image: Teddy Bear (© Fancy/Veer/Corbis/Corbis)Shares of Mattel (MAT) closed down 9% Monday to $31.01 as the toy maker reported lower profit and sales.

With the holiday rush a distant memory, the first quarter is typically a slow time for toy companies. But this first quarter was particularly bad as  global sales of Barbie products fell by 6%. It was the first sales decline for Barbie in 10 quarters, Bloomberg reported.

Overall, sales for the quarter were down 3% to $928.4 million -- less than the $984.7 million analysts were expecting. And profit was only $7.8 million, or 2 cents a share, far less than the 7 cents analysts wanted to see.

North America was a big disappointment, with revenue down by 9%. Another area of concern was the Wheels segment, including Hot Wheels toy cars, which saw a 6% global decline. The Fisher Price division was flat.

Retailers are being more cautious in this uncertain economy, and Mattel said it was surprised at the level of inventory reductions in stores. "We expect them to remain being cautious," said CEO Bryan Stockton in a conference call with analysts.

The quarterly numbers were affected by Mattel's $680 million buy of HIT Entertainment, the company known for Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine.

But analysts weren't too concerned, Bloomberg reports. One reason is because the first quarter is the least important to the company's bottom line. Another reason is because last year's sales were inflated from "Cars 2" toys.

And investors might give Mattel a little latitude here. Even after Monday's big drop, the stock is still up 18% in the last year. Shares of rival Hasbro (HAS), meanwhile, have fallen by 19%.

Apr 17, 2012 5:45AM
At Christmastime I was looking at the Barbies and no wonder they are not selling anymore.  They are the cheapest made and so much smaller than the original and costing the same high price.  I am glad my girls and grandchildren are out of that stage because I would refuse to buy one of those even if the were not.
Apr 17, 2012 11:51AM
It is a different era. When I was a little girl, we played with Barbies and she was a role model in some subliminal ways, She had all types of costumes for different events, and I think that is what started the fashion craze in some ways. But now, little girls are involved in emulating trashy celebrities, and the dolls they play with are uglier, meaner and have a dark nature. I feel sorry for today's chidlren, no use of imagination. no healthy playtime outdoors, and their parents are not involved with them the way they used to be. Mom used to look nice, dressed in more feminine ways, and kept the house clean, (which burns calories). Now I see the moms and they are slovenly and fat and dressed in sweat pants and torn up blue jeans. It reflects the direction of future generations unless something changes soon. Yes, Barbie was considered an "ideal" but it was done in an innocent way, and we have since lost our innnocence.  Children are trying to grow up too fast and it is a shame.  Adults send their children to all sorts of activities instead of just letting them enjoy their childhood. I remember warm summer days being outside, skipping rope, bicycling, playing games and playing with my ONE Barbie and it was sweet and good, and no one expected the doll to do tricks or become mechanized, it was simply a doll and your imagination fueled the playtime. Like all childhood things we enjoyed, maybe it is time to retire Barbie, she has certainly amused a few generations of girls during her existence.
Apr 17, 2012 9:21AM

They need a new 'Gangsta' Rap Barbie'... with a hoodie an Escalade, and a 38.


 They're just not keeping up with the times, that's why they're nor selling.

Apr 17, 2012 11:16AM

@CP73 - If your daughter thinks her Barbie is less realistic that Monster High there may be a problem.  Yes, Barbie's proportions are out of whack, but she represents a human, not a fictions creature.

           I remember a psychology study done several years ago evidence showed a high IQ among those child who played with dolls and action figures as opposed to those that just sat and watched television.  Later the study was revised to included to add computer and hand held games and the highest IQs went to those who spent their early years creatively playing with dolls and action figures.  Any action doll or figure can become an excellent learning toy when presented properly to a child. 

           Over the last serveral years Mattel has even gone out of its way to present Barbie in career modes and in different cultures.  The problem is they are not presented but thrown at a child usually without adult supervision.  With proper adult guidance Barbie, GI Joe, possibly even Monster High, can be used as to teach children and stimulate their imagination.

          The key is adult supervision.  Spend time with your child teaching them properly.  Don't let the toy teach them, but teach them to use the toy.      

Apr 17, 2012 11:42AM
Apr 17, 2012 5:41AM
i think it (doesn't help them) but to me a good thing, younger women today having kids are not as idolized with a barbie type. i personally think that the image and body type of Barbie is so fake.
Apr 17, 2012 12:08PM
Typical trend Barbie will make a comeback always has.
Apr 17, 2012 11:22AM
Barbie will return,just needs an better promotional items to get it running.Mayby the return of the two story townhouse with working elevator.Barbie will never die.
Apr 17, 2012 3:15PM
Girls are pressured to go from being little girls to little women by 10 years old.  They are encouraged to stop wearing ponytails and to wear clothes that are only smaller versions of adult outfits.  Little girls are foregoing more and more of their childhood.  On the other hand, boys are allowed to continue to indulge in video games, cartoons and comic books well into their teens (and adulthood, in some cases) Smile.
Apr 17, 2012 11:42AM
Apr 17, 2012 6:25AM
When I was a kid, I got a Barbie. She couldn't ride a Breyer horse to save her life. I got a new and intense education on the meaning of "hip displasia". So did she. We were all 4h/Pony club kids. Who needed Barbie? Even as kids, we thought she was pretty unrealistic. Many jokes, giggles and titters from all sides back then. GI Joe rocked. Probably still does : )
Apr 17, 2012 10:12AM
@CP73 - Out of the mouths of babes...your daughter just described Kim Kardashioan!
Apr 17, 2012 9:28AM
My 10 year old no longer plays with Babie, she has moved on to Monster High dolls, they are about the same price as barbie but much cuter. As she says "not so girly and boring like barbie".
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