Jan. 31 - Plummeting sales of Barbie and Hot Wheels torpedoed Mattel's stock despite a hike in its dividend. Fred Katayama reports.
Fewer girls want to hang out with Barbie. Plummeting sales of the American icon and Hot Wheels-turned-cold drove Mattel's sales down during the crucial holiday sales season. And those sales were especially weak in its key market, the U.S., which had its worst holiday season in five years. And it didn't help that Mattel's international sales were flat. That sales shortfall caused stockpiles to grow sharply. Although the world's largest toy maker boosted profit, Piper Jaffray says promotions and discounting appear to have hurt its margins. The toy maker upped its dividend, but Mattel's stock fell sharply in early trade, pulling down rival Hasbro as well. Wells Fargo senior analyst Timothy Conder said the "Dividend annualized should provide near-term downside support, but upside catalyst appears lacking." He says Mattel likely lost market share in the U.S. and in major European countries.