Mattel 1, Hasbro 0

"More than meets the eye," is the old tag line from Hasbro's (NYSE: HAS  ) Transformers toy. It also applies to this morning's quarterly report out of the country's second-largest toymaker.

Hasbro's report is spectacular at first glance.

Revenue climbed 23% to $908.5 million, with earnings -- on a per-share basis -- soaring nearly 45% to $0.42 a share. Analysts were only expecting a profit of $0.39 a share on $854.8 million.

It looks like a healthy beat on both fronts, so why did Hasbro's stock open 3% lower this morning? Well, let's break down how a great quarter is actually a very disappointing showing.

Most of the revenue beat came from a positive $35.8 million foreign exchange impact. The bottom line is far more deceptive. For starters, Hasbro's been buying back gobs of stock lately. This is an applause-worthy tactic for most companies, but it does inflate profitability on a per-share basis. Net income itself only climbed by 33%, and not the 45% suggested once earnings get divided by the fewer shares outstanding.

Unfortunately, even that 33% boost is a facade. Back out a meaty favorable tax adjustment and add back smaller one-time expense items, and earnings clocked in at $0.33 a share. After meeting and largely beating Wall Street's quarterly profit targets over the four previous years, Hasbro has now posted back-to-back misses to kick off 2011.

Sales of Hasbro's toys for boys nearly doubled during the quarter, and understandably so. Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a summer blockbuster, validating the revival of Hasbro's iconic franchise. Unfortunately, we're also seeing double-digit percentage declines in all three of Hasbro's other product categories (games and puzzles, girls, and preschool). Operating profit margins are also contracting, which can only lead one to wonder how sorry Hasbro would be looking right now if it wasn't for Transformers.

It was a different scene at larger rival Mattel (Nasdaq: MAT  ) when it reported its quarterly results on Friday. Its stock closed higher after the country's largest toy manufacturer beat analyst estimates without any asterisks. Wondering where Hasbro's girls went? Mattel's Barbie and American Girl lines rose 12% and 13%, respectively.

We'll get a more complete picture of the toy realm once the rest of the public players report. JAKKS Pacific (Nasdaq: JAKK  ) steps up in two days. Edutainment specialist LeapFrog (NYSE: LF  ) should report in about two weeks.

Either way, there's a changing of the guard taking place when it comes to which toymaker is the darling player. Hasbro -- though smaller than Mattel -- had that over the past few years as it avoided the lead paint scandals of its rivals and its GI Joe and Transformers toy lines received Tinseltown boosts. Mattel's the one truly beating expectations these days. After years of recommending Hasbro over Mattel in my quarterly breakdowns, Mattel finally has the upper hand.

Would you rather buy Hasbro or Mattel? Share your perspective in the comment box below.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Hasbro. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended shorting Hasbro. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a kid at heart with the closet full of games to prove it. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy that is harmful only if it's not swallowed.


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