Mattel, El Segundo, Calif., said net income fell 69% in the fourth quarter vs. a year ago, to $59.5 million. The world's largest toymaker blamed, in part, unexpected retailer cutbacks. However, Mattel did meet Wall Street's expectations for a 21 per share profit. Sales slipped 4.3% to $1.5 billion for the quarter. For the year, Mattel's net income was up 16.5% to $332 million on flat sales of $4.8 billion. Mattel said shipping of its best-selling toy, Barbie, was off by 14% for the year, though it expects a strong performance from Barbie in 1999, when the doll turns 40 years old. Analysts predict Mattel and other toy companies will still likely enjoy increased stock performance in the first quarter of 1999, mostly due to optimism generated by the American International Toy Fair, which begins Feb. 8 in New York.
Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.