Mattel 4Q results miss Wall Street's expectations

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Barbie maker Mattel Inc.'s fourth-quarter net income fell 17 percent, weighed down by a litigation charge. Its performance missed Wall Street's expectations for the critical holiday period, and its shares fell almost 2 percent in premarket trading. It also raised its dividend.

The world's largest toy maker earned $306.5 million, or 87 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with $370.6 million, or $1.07 per share, a year ago.

Removing the litigation charge, earnings were $1.12 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $1.15 per share.

Revenue for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company rose 5 percent to $2.26 billion from $2.15 billion. Wall Street forecast $2.3 billion.

The November through December holiday period is key for toy makers because it can make up to 40 percent of their revenue during the time. Toy sellers have been under pressure as more kids clamor for electronic gadgets like tablets. In addition, toy sellers like Wal-Mart and others have been cautious ordering inventory.

Worldwide gross sales for the Mattel girls and boys brands climbed 5 percent in the quarter. The figure jumped 55 percent for its other girls brands, mostly because of its Monster High products. At American Girl, worldwide gross sales increased 13 percent. The figure rose 6 percent for Fisher Price.

Results were not as good for Barbie, which reported a 4 percent decline in worldwide gross sales. The Wheels segment, which includes Hot Wheels, Matchbox and the Tyco R/Co brands, posted a 1 percent dip primarily due to Matchbox.

The company's entertainment business, which includes Radica and Games, dropped 13 percent mostly because of weaker sales of Cars 2 products.

Its shares dropped 68 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $36.95 in premarket trading.

Its full-year net income edged up 1 percent to $776.5 million, or $2.22 per share, from $768.5 million, or $2.18 per share, in the prior year. Annual revenue increased 2 percent to $6.42 billion from $6.27 billion.

Mattel also announced Friday that its board declared a first-quarter dividend of 36 cents per share. This is up 16 percent from the prior-year period. The dividend will be paid on March 8 to shareholders of record on Feb. 22.

Mattel's financial report follows a dismal revenue preannouncement by Hasbro last week.

Mattel's smaller rival, which makes board games like Scrabble and toys including Furby, said its fourth-quarter revenue failed to meet expectations because of weaker-than-expected demand over the holidays. It plans to cut about 10 percent of its workforce and consolidate facilities to reduce expenses. Hasbro Inc. reports its final results for the quarter on Thursday.

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