2015 has been an incredibly strong year for Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS). The toymaker found itself stuck in the doldrums over the past several years as the entire toy industry struggled to keep up with competing claims for the attention of kids and teenagers. This year, though, Hasbro appears to have started turning things around, and coming into Monday morning's second-quarter financial report, investors hoped that the toymaker would keep the good times coming. Hasbro delivered much of what its shareholders wanted to see, fending off challenges from the strong dollar and seeing considerable potential ahead. Let's take a closer look at Hasbro's latest results and what they say about the rest of the year.
Christmas in July for Hasbro
If you're not familiar with some of the struggles that Hasbro has gone through in recent years, then today's results might not look all that strong. Sales fell 4% to $797.7 million, and even though net income rose nearly 25% from the year-ago quarter to $41.8 million, the gains were due entirely to an unfavorable income-tax adjustment last year, without which Hasbro's bottom line would have posted a year-over-year decline. Nevertheless, investors had expected a deeper drop of 7% on the top line, and earnings of $0.33 per share were well above the $0.29-per-share consensus among those following the stock.
Hasbro's geographical results showed the impact that currencies have had on the company. In the U.S. and Canada, sales posted a 1% gain, with roughly flat operating profit for the quarter. Internationally, the dollar-denominated figures looked ugly, with a 9% drop in revenue producing an even steeper 13% decline in operating profit. Yet when you take out the impact of weak currencies in Europe and Latin America, revenue on a constant-currency basis actually climbed about 9%.
As we've seen before, though, Hasbro hasn't found success throughout its target audience. Toys aimed at boys and at preschoolers had the best results, with 14% growth in the preschool segment coming from the iconic Play-Doh as well as shipments of Jurassic World products. Boys' toys also saw gains from Jurassic World, as well as Nerf and Marvel/Star Wars-related products. For girls' toys, though, declines in Furby led a 22% decline in revenue, and drops in revenue from Magic: The Gathering and Angry Birds helped send the games division's total sales down 6%.
Hasbro executives again trumpeted the toymaker's success during its transition. As CEO Brian Goldner put it, "The execution of our brand blueprint strategy, including our recent decision to sell our final manufacturing locations and the continued development of new relationships in content development, furthers the transformation of Hasbro into an organization focused on global brand building." CFO Deborah Thomas pointed to Hasbro's internal efforts, saying that some of its investments in efficiency and brand-building "will be more prominent in the second half of 2015 than they were in the first six months of the year."
What investors should look forward to from Hasbro
In particular, Hasbro has identified several areas it identifies as Franchise Brands. These include Nerf, Monopoly, My Little Pony, Play-Doh, Transformers, Magic: The Gathering, and Littlest Pet Shop. In order to support these brands, Hasbro has tried to adopt a multimedia strategy that goes beyond toys and creates content based on character and plot development of story lines in each brand.
Obviously, though, Hasbro is also aiming to capitalize on the content creation of other companies. Through licensing in key areas like Marvel and Star Wars, Hasbro has a huge opportunity to ride on the coattails of multimedia success even though it isn't producing the movies and related content that spawns interest in the toys it develops.
From a financial standpoint, Hasbro has aimed to keep shareholders happy without wasting capital. The company continued its stock-buyback program, but it only spent $21.6 million to buy back just over 311,000 shares of stock. With the share price climbing to its highest level ever, moderation in repurchase activity seems warranted at least for now.
Hasbro's results gave shareholders new optimism, with the stock climbing 6% by 10:55 a.m. With such a bright future ahead of it, Hasbro seems to have recovered from its malaise and is following a solid strategic course that could guide it for years to come.