April 21, 2008 / 10:52 AM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Mattel posts loss as Fisher-Price sales slip

(Adds details, background, analyst estimates)

NEW YORK, April 21 (Reuters) - Mattel Inc MAT.N, the largest U.S. toy company, posted a quarterly loss on Monday, hurt by lower sales of its Fisher-Price products, legal expenses and higher costs.

The maker of Barbie dolls and toys tied to several big summer films said its first-quarter loss totaled $46.6 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $12 million, or 3 cents a share.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 1 cent per share.

Sales fell 2 percent to $919.3 million, below analysts’ estimates of $932.5 million.

Wall Street analysts have said Mattel’s margins should be pressured through the second quarter as the company grapples with higher testing and legal expenses stemming from last year’s global recalls.

The first quarter is typically a down period for toy companies as demand falls after the holiday shopping season, when most of the year’s sales are made.

Mattel said gross sales fell 11 percent in the United States and increased 8 percent internationally during the first quarter.

Price increases should help profitability in the second half of the year, Chief Executive Robert Eckert said in a statement.

Sales are expected to get a much-needed boost during the second quarter as Mattel rolls out toys tied to potential summer blockbusters “Speed Racer,” “Batman: The Dark Knight” and “Kung Fu Panda.” (Reporting by Justin Grant; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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