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Mattel tumbles after Barbie's comeback fades, red ink mounts

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Mattel Inc's turnaround still has a long way to go.

[NEW YORK] Mattel Inc's turnaround still has a long way to go.

The world's largest toymaker posted first-quarter results that fell far short of Wall Street estimates, renewing concerns that its comeback is faltering. Excluding some items, the loss was 32 US cents a share, wider than the deficit of 17 US cents that analysts predicted.

This quarter comes after disappointing holiday season, signaling that new chief executive officer Margo Georgiadis has a lot of work to do. The former Google executive joined Mattel in February, and set about trying to reinvigorate brands such as Barbie. The doll, Mattel's biggest property, saw sales fall 13 per cent in the quarter.

The latest results sent the stock down as much as 11 per cent to US$22.55 in New York trading Friday, the biggest intraday decline in almost three months and its lowest level in one and a half years. It had already declined 8.5 per cent this year through Thursday's close.

The lackluster Christmas season in North America created a glut of inventory at retailers that slowed orders in the new year, Ms Georgiadis said. But there was a positive sign: Sales of the Barbies and other toys that were already on store shelves grew last quarter, she said.

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"We're confident we've worked through those inventory issues at this point," Ms Georgiadis said in an interview. The first quarter also is traditionally a slow time for Mattel, representing only 10 per cent of its total sales, she said.

Mattel had reported positive quarters in the past year as Barbie regained some of its prior popularity. But the doll's star power faded during the holidays, with sales falling two per cent in the fourth quarter.

Mattel's first-quarter revenue sank 15 per cent US$735.6 million. That trailed projections of US$790.5 million.


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