So what: First-quarter results, released on April 20, injected enthusiasm into the Hasbro growth story. In what is traditionally the slowest sales period of the year, Hasbro solidly beat Wall Street expectations on both the top and bottom lines.
Revenue rose by an impressive 5%, compared to the 3% dip analysts were expecting. CEO Brian Goldner credited that success to Hasbro's deep portfolio of brands. "2015 is off to a good start with continued momentum in our business, led by growth in all of our Franchise Brands," he said in a press release.
The core brands (Transformers, Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, Nerf, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Play-Doh) booked a 20% sales jump as a group. As those franchises command higher prices, they helped Hasbro post a hefty profitability improvement in the quarter: operating margin jumped to 7.6% from 6.4% a year ago.
Now what: In June, Hasbro can expect a nice sales bounce from its partnership for merchandise tied to the upcoming Jurassic World movie. Overall expectations are fairly low for the full year, with Wall Street targeting just a 1% sales rise. But currency fluctuations are masking much more solid growth than that numbers indicates. For example, Hasbro's sales rose 14% in the first quarter, absent the negative effect of currency changes against the U.S. dollar.
Longer term, shareholders can look for profits to grow at a quicker pace than sales. Cash returns through dividend boosts and share repurchases should also continue marching higher.