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Hasbro posts surprise revenue drop as Star Wars toys fail to shine

[BENGALURU] Toymaker Hasbro Inc reported a surprise fall in quarterly revenue on Wednesday due to a decline in sales of its toys based on the Star Wars franchise and the lingering impact of the bankruptcy of retailer Toys 'R' Us.

The company's shares fell 3.2 per cent to US$90.94 before the bell. The toy industry was jolted by the retailer's collapse last October, forcing Hasbro, rival Mattel and other toy makers to find other outlets for sales during the all-important holiday season.

The maker of My Little Pony and Nerf guns, had prewarned in October that holiday sales would be hit by the bankruptcy of Toys 'R' Us - one of biggest sellers of Hasbro's toys.

Hasbro has focused on linking its toys to big movie franchises like Star Wars and The Avengers, which have created a new generation of young fans through video games and apps.

However, 2017 was the worst year for movie ticket sales since 1992, according to Box Office Mojo, as moviegoers lost interest in sequels, in turn affecting the market for toys based on movie characters like Iron Man and Luke Skywalker.

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"A decline in Partner Brands and Europe revenues resulted in us not meeting our fourth quarter revenue expectations," Hasbro chief executive Brian Goldner said.

Net revenue from the company's partner brands unit, which includes toys based on movie franchises, fell 21 per cent to US$342.9 million.

"Our Partner Brands estimate of +8% could be too high as Stars Wars could have been below expectations," DA Davidson analyst Linda Weiser wrote in a pre-earnings note.

The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company's revenue fell 2.1 per cent to US$1.6 billion, while analysts had expected it to rise to US$1.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Excluding items, the company earned US$2.30 per share.

Hasbro reported a net loss attributable to the company of US$5.3 million, or 4 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, due to a US$296.5 million charge related to the US tax overhaul.

A year earlier, the company posted profit of US$192.7 million, or US$1.52 per share.


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