Daily Archives: July 21, 2008

NEWS: Mattel’s Hooker Barbie’s hot, but sales not

Barbie’s New Wardrobe: Fishnets, Leather Boots
Black Canary Barbie is inspired by a D.C. Comics superhero.

WTAM 1100
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Houston, TX (KTRH-AM) – The group Christian Voice says the new “Black Canary” Barbie is “filth”. The classic American’s doll’s latest outfit includes black fishnet leggings, leather boots, and a motorcycle jacket.

Hooker Barbie. New look for old profession.

Hooker Barbie. New look for old profession.

However, pop culture expert Bob Thompson says Barbie’s always been a little racy.

“She came out in that one piece, horizontal, v-striped black and white thing, then she got a wedding outfit, and I think she had a neglige by 1959.”

Christian Voice concedes that Barbie has always been a little “tarty”, but Thomspon says Barbie is a follower, not a leader. “The dolls are following the kids, and the kids are getting the ideas from Britney, for awhile, and name whoever the current star is.”

Thompson says the Mattel toy’s fashion sense isn’t the only thing that has made waves. “It’s been quite some time now since Barbie dolls have been integrated, where you had Barbie dolls of different skin colors, so they’ve evolved in other ways besides simply their spicier outfits.”

Often, Thomspon says, the dolls aren’t bought by kids, anyway. “An awful lot of collectors of Barbie are older folks who used to play with them when they were kids.”

But Thomspon says Black Canary Barbie — which is coming out in September — isn’t for everyone… “I can certainly see how a lot of parents wouldn’t be terribly anxious to purchase this for their six year old.”

Black Canary Barbie is inspired by a D.C. Comics superhero.

wtam.com

Shrinking Sales, Margins Hurt Mattel
Barbie sales fell 6%

By DAVID BENOIT
Wall Street Journal
July 18, 2008

Mattel Inc. reported a 48% decrease in second-quarter net income as domestic sales continued to struggle and margins shrank.

But shares of the toy company jumped 12% to $20.48 as results topped expectations and on late Thursday’s ruling that could hand Mattel royalty payments of as much as $350 million for property infringement and help its struggling Barbie franchise.

In the first quarter, Mattel swung to its first quarterly loss in three years. But stronger international sales and improvements across most segments returned the toy maker to profitability. Barbie, Mattel’s flagship doll, continued to falter, but summer movie releases pushed up sales in multiple businesses.

Mattel posted second-quarter net income of $11.8 million, or three cents a share, down from $22.8 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 11% to $1.11 billion, with currency rates making up nearly half of the growth. The mean estimates for analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, were for earnings of 2 cents a share on revenue of $1.04 billion. Gross margin slipped to 43.9% from 44.4%.

Internationally, revenue increased 15% — with two-thirds of the gains the result of the weaker dollar, while sales in the slumping North American market grew by 3%.

Barbie sales fell 6%, while Fisher-Price had a 4% increase, the latter rebounding from a drop in the first quarter.

Sales for the Wheels category, which includes the Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco R/C brands, jumped 32%, while the entertainment business, which includes games and puzzles, was up 14%.

American Girl Brands, Mattel’s expanding high-end doll unit, saw sales increase 10%.

On Thursday, Mattel might have finally caught the break it needed to offset the drop in Barbie sales, as a federal jury ruled that Mattel, not MGA Entertainment Inc., is the rightful owner of the $1 billion doll line Bratz. Mattel had alleged in a lawsuit that the doll’s designer, Carter Bryant, had created Bratz while employed by Mattel, and a jury awarded the company intellectual-property rights. A separate trial will begin next week for damages, but the ruling is a huge boost for Mattel, which views Bratz as Barbie’s biggest competitor. (See related article.)

A Friday note from Wachovia analysts said the jury could award damages for Bratz sales from 2001 until 2007 that could potentially add 75 cents a share in cash to Mattel. Wachovia “strongly” reiterated its outperform investment rating of the company’s stock and said any cash proceeds would likely go toward a stock buyback.

Looking forward, Mattel is hoping for more positive results related to toys from summer movie blockbusters including “Kung Fu Panda” and “Batman: The Dark Knight,” both of which helped sales last quarter. A soon-to-be-released Elmo Live toy is viewed as a coming savior for Fisher-Price, which had been struggling.

online.wsj.com

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