Barbie is one hot chick, at least for toy maker Mattel
Quarterly sales rose 7% to $1.67 billion, and for the year, sales were up 4% to $4.89 billion. Excluding items, which included restructuring charges, accounting changes, and a gain from discontinued operations, Mattel recorded annual income of $486.9 million ($1.10 a share) versus $386.3 million ($0.89 a share).
Mattel booked quarterly income of $190.3 million, or $0.43 a share, excluding items. Analysts were expecting $0.39. In the previous quarter on the same basis, it made $154.9 million, or $0.35 a share.
Fears that the West Coast port lockout would ruin Mattel's chances for a happy holiday were obviously unfounded. The company's inventory levels ended up just right. And Mattel was blessed to have some of the season's hottest toys.
Barbie's the big standout, with a fourth-quarter sales increase of 17%. That helped Mattel's girls business grow revenues 10% to $838.4 million for the quarter. It wasn't all Rapunzel Barbie, either. Mattel's new My Scene Barbie line, which sports dolls with bigger heads and hipper clothes (to counter the tremendously popular Bratz line from MGA Entertainment), also contributed.
Then there's what may be the most annoying doll ever -- Chicken Dance Elmo, from Mattel's Fisher-Price division. The yellow, gyrating monstrosity boogied his way into homes, driving parents crazy and Mattel's fourth-quarter sales results for its infant and preschool unit up 14% to $548.7 million.
Looking ahead, Mattel hopes to generate as much as $1.5 billion in free cash flow over the next three years. The company's plans for that money include acquisitions, share repurchases, and dividends. It reiterated its long-term financial outlook, calling for sales growth in the mid-single digits and earning growth in the low double digits to mid-teens range.
Don't expect the company to get more detailed than this in the future. Mattel also announced it will stop providing financial guidance, a move we heartily applaud.