Mattel expects strong holiday season after Barbie boosts quarterly sales

(Reuters) – Mattel Inc on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected 40% jump in quarterly sales on robust demand for its Barbie and Hot Wheels brands, and said it expected healthy holiday season demand despite upcoming price hikes.

Comic Con fans gather at the Mattel booth they participate in the opening preview night at Comic Con International in San Diego,California, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Barbie sales have surged in the last year as people turned to the iconic dolls to keep their children entertained during pandemic-led lockdowns in the absence of big movie franchise-based toys – a category dominated by rival Hasbro Inc.

Mattel’s push to make Barbie more diverse with dolls based on different role models and professions has also struck a chord with customers. Earlier this month, the company unveiled a doll based on Japan’s four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka.

“It’s more than a doll. It’s a cultural icon and we continue to stay culturally relevant,” Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz told Reuters.

Kreiz said Barbie content on Netflix and an upcoming movie starring Margot Robbie would help maintain the brand’s popularity in the coming months, while a new Hot Wheels video game would do the same for the toy car brand.

Overall gross billings for Barbie, Mattel’s biggest brand, jumped 46% to $291.3 million in the second quarter ended June 30, while Hot Wheels’ billings surged 67% to $227.4 million.

In comparison, Hasbro reported a 54% jump in quarterly revenue on Monday helped by demand for role-playing games and toys based on popular Marvel movie characters.

“We do feel very good about the upcoming holiday season,” Mattel’s Kreiz said, despite the company raising prices in the second half of the year to cover higher commodity and transportation costs.

Mattel reported second-quarter total net sales of $1.03 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $878.8 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding certain items, Mattel reported a profit of 3 cents per share.

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