Mattel posts surprise profit as retailers load up on Barbies, Hot Wheels

Barbie dolls, a brand owned by Mattel, are seen at the FAO Schwarz toy store in New York City, November 24, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Mattel reported a surprise quarterly profit and beat estimates for sales, extending a strong run since the pandemic, as retailers restocked the toymaker’s Barbie and Hot Wheels brands following inventory shortfalls over the holiday season.

The company’s shares, which closed up nearly 11% in regular trading on Wednesday on reports of buyout interest from firms including Apollo Global Management and L Catterton, rose about 3% in extended trading.

“Following such a strong holiday period, retailers were out of stock, so they restocked more for the first quarter, and still expect to grow in second quarter,” Chief Executive Ynon Kreiz told Reuters.

Shipping delays, factory shutdowns and related supply chain snarls had delayed the arrival of many products during the all-important holiday shopping season, despite companies’ efforts to pull forward deliveries and reroute goods.

The second quarter has started strong, Kreiz added, with demand boosted by action figures and games based on major upcoming movies including “Jurassic World: Dominion”, “Lightyear” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

The company’s gross margin declined 70 basis points in the first quarter from a year earlier, as price hikes failed to cushion the blow from soaring input costs and transportation expenses.

Still, the Uno cards maker reported an adjusted profit of 8 cents per share, while analysts on average had expected a loss of 4 cents, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Overall gross billings for Barbie, Mattel’s biggest brand, rose 8% in the quarter, while they jumped 31% at Hot Wheels.

Even in a seasonally slow first quarter, net sales surged 19% to $1.04 billion, trouncing analysts’ average estimate of $918 million.

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