A tale of two toymakers: Mattel soars, Hasbro sinks, but there's more to the story

On Friday shares of Mattel continued to soar after a strong earnings beat on Thursday, while shares of rival Hasbro sunk, the result of a poor earnings showing before the bell — but there is more going on than these stock moves show.

It was clear heading into the holiday season that the toy industry was going to take a hit. The bankruptcy and subsequent closure of Toys R Us meant Hasbro, Mattel and other toymakers had far fewer shelves on which to place their inventory than in years prior.

While a number of retailers, including Target, Walmart, and even drugstores, expanded their toy sections this past holiday season, it wasn’t enough to offset the hole left by Toys R Us’ departure from the market.

Industry-wide sales of toys fell 2 percent in 2018, according market researcher NPD Group.

Investors rallied behind Mattel on Thursday after the company exceeded analyst expectations during the fourth quarter. Shares spiked as much as 27 percent on Friday, before retreating slightly. The stock is down nearly 6 percent over the past year putting its market value at $4.3 billion. Analysts expressed renewed confidence in the company, which has been in the midst of a multi-year turnaround.

“Mattel’s Q4 results were materially better relative to expectations, in our opinion, and hence we came away from this update incrementally more upbeat on business fundamentals,” Drew Crum, analyst at Stifel, wrote in a research note Thursday.

Investors and analysts were less confident about Hasbro, however. The company posted weaker-than-expected profits and continued to blame Toys R Us for its sales woes.

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“We are surprised with the severity of the miss, but take some solace that retail inventory levels have significantly declined, which should allow Hasbro to start 2019 with a relatively clean channel and a more efficient cost structure,” Eric Handler, analyst at MKM Partners, wrote in a research note Friday.

Hasbro shares were down 4.9 percent Friday after falling as much as 10 percent before the opening bell. Hasbro’s stock is down nearly 11 percent over the past year, bringing its market value to $11.4 billion.

“If you took the logo off the top, Hasbro’s earnings read like a company that was restructuring and Mattel read like a growth company,” Gerrick Johnson, analyst at BMO Captial Markets, said.


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