Barbie must have brushed up on her foreign languages. Her international voyages led the way in Mattel's (NYSE:MAT) second-quarter earnings report. How did the main competitor of Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) perform overall?

Domestically, not so hot, but internationally, things are cooking. The U.S. marketplace saw a sales decline of 3%. Overseas, Mattel grew its top line by 18%. International sales, of course, have been a key factor for global businesses, since the weak dollar is aiding in terms of currency exchange. Blending those two figures together, Mattel grew overall net sales by 7%, coming in at $1 billion. Earnings per diluted share only went up by a penny, to $0.11; the previous year's quarter did contain a tax benefit, however, equal to $0.02.

As I said, Barbie was a big help this quarter. The iconic doll property saw its revenue base grow 6% year over year. That isn't bad, especially considering that Barbie has been having a tough time in recent years remaining relevant to girls in an era where kids are outgrowing traditional toys at earlier ages -- the so-called "age compression" phenomenon. Even better, the Hot Wheels and Matchbox lines helped to drive a 20% gain in sales for the company's Wheels segment. Fisher-Price also enjoyed a double-digit rise.

There were the requisite weak spots. We all know everything can't be perfect. American Girl merchandise declined 10% in its top line, while the entertainment business -- Mattel includes puzzles and Radica properties in this segment -- was down 2%.

These soft spots don't concern me right now. You have to look at the overall picture when discussing a company such as Mattel, which, like Hasbro and JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ:JAKK), is an example of a backloaded situation. The company spends lots of money in the first half of the year to be ready for the fourth quarter, when tinsel wraps around the Christmas trees and kids make their holiday lists. Looking at this report from such a viewpoint should make any shareholder feel positive. And as an early Christmas present to shareholders, margins improved across the board.   

This report comes on the heels of a previous solid outing; the first quarter also saw a profit which was made even more special because of a tax benefit recorded in the comparable time frame. Like Hasbro, Mattel has a valuable portfolio of licensed products, including merchandise based on the Disney (NYSE:DIS) Princess line and figures based on Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Batman franchise. While I think Mattel is doing well, I have to point out that I am more partial to Hasbro at the moment. I think that company has leveraged its high-profile properties to excellent advantage -- and, hey, you have to consider that it is one of several companies that are benefiting right now from the Transformers juggernaut. Nevertheless, Mattel isn't far off from a 52-week high, and if it can do something about the weakness in its U.S. revenue base, investors will still be interested in the company as a viable toy-industry idea.   

More fun and games with Mattel:

Disney, Hasbro, and Time Warner are proud members of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation list. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service with no obligation whatsoever. The Gardner brothers can help you construct a long-term, wealth-building portfolio.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney. As of this writing, he was ranked 16,099 out of more than 60,000 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.