Toymakers Hold, Wendy's Scolds, RedEnvelope Folds

It was a tale of two toymakers as Mattel (NYSE: MAT  ) and Hasbro (NYSE: HAS  ) posted quarterly earnings this morning. The two reports couldn't be further apart.

Mattel stepped up first, posting a 2% dip in net sales. A meager profit during the same quarter a year earlier was transformed into a $0.13-per-share loss. International gains weren't enough to offset stateside declines.

If you're worried that consumers might not have forgiven Mattel for last year's toy-recall woes, keep fretting. While Hot Wheels toy sales were up and Barbie worldwide sales were flat, Fisher-Price sales fell a sharp 13% during the period. Since Fisher-Price represents the company's best proxy for toddler toys, it's clear that Mattel still has a bit longer to go to win back label-checking parents.

On the other end of the spectrum, Hasbro was rocking. Revenue climbed 13% higher. An aggressive share buyback helped prop up profits to $0.25 a share, versus a $0.19-a-share showing a year earlier. There was strength in the company's own lines, especially since the success of last year's Transformers movie, but Hasbro is also doing well with its Star Wars license.

Then again, the year has only just begun. Toymakers don't really start to show their stuff until the second half of the year, when we discover who has the hot toys to lead the way during the telltale holiday earnings season. A lot can happen. Heck, if the unlikely Florida Marlins reclaimed first place in the National League East last night, just about anything can happen.

However, on a crisp Monday morning in which Hasbro and Mattel decided to post their results just 30 minutes apart, we know who is the teacher's pet and who is the one wearing the dunce cap.

News to go
Does anyone know somebody who'd like to be fixed up with a cute, red-haired girl in pigtails? Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) has been seeking a suitor for a year now, but the interested parties offering "strategic alternatives" haven't been up to snuff. Plans to combine Wendy's with Triarc's (NYSE: TRY  ) Arby's have been percolating since last summer, but now Wendy's is claiming that the offers it has received have been substandard. Wendy's is calling the offers "misleading" to its shareholders. Bickering with its bidders? That's only going to get our beloved Wendy's that much closer to being an old maid since Tim moved out.

RedEnvelope filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization over the weekend. Creative Catalogs Corporation will take over for the struggling online retailer. RedEnvelope was a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation several years ago, back when the company was thriving by offering unique gifts in its signature red packaging. Tom Gardner thankfully bailed on the stock heading into the 2005 holiday season, getting investors out while the stock was still trading in the double digits. Today's shareholders will more than likely be wiped out. Let's hope they don't get their canceled stock certificates mailed out to them in red envelopes.

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS  ) is a swinging single, with the key word there being "swinging." The credit card specialist is suing Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX  ) for $170 million in business interruption claims after a proposed buyout came undone. It's a cold wake-up call to investors. In today's volatile market, a deal is never a deal until the Alliance is sealed.

Have a great day out there.


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