Girl Power: Hasbro returns to 1st-quarter profit as sales of girls’ toys strengthen

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Hasbro returned to profitability in its first quarter, driven by sales of girls’ toys such as My Little Pony and Nerf Rebelle. The prior-year results were dragged down by restructuring charges.

Its latest earnings topped Wall Street estimates but revenue was short of what analysts expected.

Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets. The first quarter is the seasonally smallest for toy makers, coming after the key holiday quarter which can account for up to 40 per cent of revenue.

Hasbro Inc.’s sales of girls’ products were strong however, up 21 per cent. Sales of My Little Pony Equestria Girls dolls also resonated with customers.

The boys’ category reported a 2 per cent increase in sales, helped by Nerf and Marvel products. This was partially offset by weakening Beyblade sales.

Game sales fell 4 per cent, hindered partly by declining sales of trading card game Duel Masters.

Sales of preschool products slipped 4 per cent due to soft sales of core Playskool items.

Sales for the entertainment and licensing division rose 13 per cent thanks to the inclusion of Backflip Studios. International sales increased 5 per cent, led by Europe and Latin America. In the U.S. and Canada, sales edged down 1 per cent.

The Pawtucket, R.I.-based company earned $32.1 million, or 24 cents per share, for the period ended March 30. That compares with a loss of $6.7 million, or 5 cents per share, a year earlier.

Stripping out favourable tax adjustments of 10 cents per share, earnings were 14 cents per share.

The year-ago period was pulled down by restructuring charges totalling 14 cents per share. It also had favourable tax adjustments of 4 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings for the latest period of 10 cents per share, on average.

Revenue edged up 2 per cent to $679.5 million from $663.7 million, but missed Wall Street’s estimate of $690.1 million.

Last week rival Mattel Inc. reported an unexpected first-quarter loss, hurt by soft Barbie sales and markdowns to clear excess inventory.

Hasbro shares rose $1.05, or 1.9 per cent, to $55.66 in afternoon trading after rising as high as $56.91 earlier in the day, which FactSet said was an all-time high. Its shares had been down slightly so far this year.

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