Expectations were muted going into first-quarter earnings for Hasbro (HAS -3.08%). The toymaker had posted weaker-than-expected results during the important holiday season, pushed lower by weakness in Europe, the loss of the Toys R Us distribution channel, and the softening economy in the U.K. due to Brexit.

Hasbro came roaring back when the company reported results that easily surpassed expectations, driven higher by success in a number of areas, which pushed the stock 15% higher as of this writing. Let's look at four of the biggest contributors to Hasbro's blockbuster quarter.

Monopoly Fortnite special edition.

A special edition of Monopoly. Image source: Hasbro.

1. Strong revenue and earnings growth

Revenue for the first quarter grew to $733 million, up 2% year over year. While that might not seem worth writing home about, the results were actually much better than they appeared, allowing for a $24 million impact from foreign currency. Adjusting for exchange rates resulted in revenue that grew by 6%. Strong sales growth also made its way to the bottom line as Hasbro generated earnings per share of $0.21.

Both numbers were significantly better than expected. Analysts' consensus estimates were calling for revenue of $665 million, down 7% year over year, and a loss per share of $0.10. The strength of Hasbro's results gave investors a boost of confidence after the disappointing holiday quarter.

2. Impressive spending discipline

Hasbro had previously announced steps to reduce expenses. The company originally revealed $30 million to $40 million in savings that it planned to realize by 2020. But it has been much more successful at cost-cutting than it originally anticipated. Last quarter, management updated investors, saying the company now expects gross savings of $70 million to $80 million by 2020, with $50 million to $55 million realized in 2019. 

Those efforts are bearing fruit. Hasbro's operating expenses declined by 13% year over year, with about $25 million reflecting the early results of promised cost savings. On the conference call, CEO Brian Goldner said the company remains "on track to deliver profitable growth for the full-year 2019."

3. More than meets the eye

Bumblebee, the latest installment in Hasbro's Transformers movie franchise, was released just before Christmas, and has since accumulated nearly $468 million in box office worldwide. As a result, revenue from Hasbro's entertainment, licensing, and digital segment increased 24% year over year to $92 million, producing $30 million in operating profits. 

The contribution didn't stop there, as demand generated by the movie resulted in stronger toy sales. Transformers was one of four franchise brands Hasbro called out that helped boost the company's ovreall performance. The other highlighted performers were Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, and Play-Doh.

4. International sales stabilized

Last year, Hasbro's international segment faced numerous challenges, including the closure of Toys R Us, weakness in Europe, and a softening economy in the U.K. that resulted in a 17% decline in revenue for the segment and an 83% hit to profits for 2018. 

For the first quarter, Hasbro showed that the company has met those challenges head on. International sales declined by just 2%, but even that's misleading. Excluding a $23 million impact from foreign currency exchange rates, revenue from the international segment increased by 6%.