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Cats Prove to Have Incredible Selling Power for Hasbro

By Andrew Marder - Apr 23, 2013 at 5:30PM

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Hasbro had a better-than-expected quarter, but there are still challenges on the horizon. Also, cats.

Yesterday, Hasbro (HAS 1.27%) announced that it had managed a 2% increase in revenue, thanks, in part, to a tiny metal cat. Earlier in the quarter, the company launched a campaign to pick one of the classic Monopoly playing pieces to be replaced. As a result, Hasbro generated 2 billion visits to its contest pages and experienced a meaningful increase in Monopoly sales. It ended up getting rid of the iron -- which was never going to be as good as the thimble -- and replaced it with a cat.

The headline was positive, as the company beat analysts' expectations, but the reality was less favorable. Hasbro posted a $6.7 million loss for the quarter, which was a fall even from its $2.6 million loss last year. Much of that was related to the ongoing restructuring of the business, which cost about $29 million in the quarter.

Fixing what's broken
The restructuring of Hasbro has been going on for a while now, and the company is hoping to see results soon. The company has been slimming down the number of products that it offers, and focusing on a few core concepts to drive growth. That cost-cutting exercise should begin to pay off in the next quarter, according to management. That could be a big win for investors, as underlying income -- setting the restructuring aside -- actually increased. The company has said that by 2014 the program will result in $100 million in savings per year.

The problems at Hasbro will almost always stem from its position among competitors. Foremost among those is Mattel (MAT 3.17%), which stormed its last quarter. The company increased revenue by 7% and earnings per share by $0.09, up to $0.11 per share last quarter. Mattel has been riding the value in its American Girl and Monster High brands.

For its part, Hasbro has been trying to get more out of all its lines, but has had trouble with its boys category. Last quarter, sales were down 20% in boys, due in part to difficult comparisons to a good quarter last year. The company is hoping that the Beyblade and Angry Birds brands continue to perform well, and that it can see some more growth in its Transformers and G.I. Joe brands.

The future of Hasbro
Some of the best options for growth may come from the company's Star Wars merchandise. Now that Disney (DIS 3.51%) has picked up the brand, it's announced ambitious plans to release one Star Wars movie a year, starting in 2015. The company is going to alternate trilogy material with stand-alone films. That should generate all kinds of good vibes for the brand, and should result in strong sales for Hasbro.

But 2015 is a ways off, and there's a lot of ground to cover between now and then. Hasbro needs to start seeing some of the cost savings that it's planned for, and get its boys category back in the black. If it can manage to get through the next 18 months in strong fashion, then it should be well placed to take advantage of the new films. If all else fails, it could just start making cat toys, I suppose.

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Stocks Mentioned

Hasbro, Inc. Stock Quote
Hasbro, Inc.
$87.08 (1.27%) $1.09
The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$109.32 (3.51%) $3.71
Mattel, Inc. Stock Quote
Mattel, Inc.
$24.72 (3.17%) $0.76

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