Boys rule at Hasbro as superheroes, Transformers lift 4Q

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2015 10:21 AM
Boys rule at Hasbro as superheroes, Transformers lift 4Q

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — The appetite for superheroes and robots in disguise led to a healthy fourth-quarter at Hasbro even as a shift toward electronics has challenged the traditional toy industry.

Hasbro said Monday that sales of toys geared toward boys increased 21 percent, with a strong showing from Transformers, Nerf and Marvel.

The company boosted its quarterly dividend and increased the number of its own shares targeted for buybacks.

There were two hurdles during the quarter: the strong U.S. dollar and declining sales in toys for girls. Hasbro's rival Mattel, which makes the Barbie doll, has seen a similar decline recently.

Hasbro said revenue would have climbed 7 percent if it weren't for a $93.4 million drag from foreign exchange.

Net income reached $169.9 million, or $1.34 per share, for the quarter. Earnings adjusted for pretax gains came to $1.22 per share, which was in line with Wall Street expectations, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue climbed to $1.3 billion from $1.28 billion, but that was still short of the $1.34 billion analysts were looking for, according to Zacks.

Sales of merchandise for girls fell 10 percent during the quarter and game sales declined 4 percent.

Last month Mattel Inc. said that weak Barbie doll sales weighed down its fourth quarter. That company's chairman and CEO resigned.

Hasbro in September wrested the rights from Mattel for the dolls of Disney's blockbuster "Frozen," and will begin producing them next year.

For 2015, Hasbro reported a profit of $415.9 million, or $3.20 per share. Its adjusted profit was $3.15 per share, which was better than expected. Revenue was $4.28 billion and, like the quarter, fell a bit short of projections.

Hasbro raised its quarterly dividend by 7 percent to 46 cents per share, from 43 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on May 15 to shareholders of record on May 1.

Hasbro Inc., based in The Pawtucket, Rhode Island, also authorized an additional $500 million in share repurchases.

"Hasbro's results were better than Mattel's and exceeded our expectation," wrote Drew Crum, an industry analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. But he left his rating unchanged due to the rising prices of the company's stock.

The company's stock jumped more than 4 percent to $58.22 in early trading.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap ) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on HAS at http://www.zacks.com/ap/HAS

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Keywords: Hasbro, Earnings Report