Mattel beats sales estimates as bored kids turn back to Barbie

(Reuters) - Mattel Inc beat quarterly sales expectations on Thursday, as its North Americans customers splurged on Barbie dolls and Uno playing cards to keep their kids entertained during coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

New Barbie dolls from Mattel are pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The toymaker said it was expecting its sales to improve in the coming months, compared with the first half of the year, as concerns grow that schools in many parts of the United States would remain shut, with new virus cases spiking across the country.

Mattel’s shares rose about 4% in extended trading.

The reopening of toy stores is also helping sales, with Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz telling Reuters that only 4% of retail outlets, which normally account for about 8% of the company’s sales, were closed at the end of June. About 30% of Mattel’s retail stores were shut at the end of March.

Mattel’s gross sales in North America rose 3% in the second quarter, mainly driven by an increase in demand for the various avatars of the company’s iconic Barbie dolls and playsets, Uno playing cards, as well as “Baby Yoda” plush toys.

Overall gross Barbie sales increased 7% to $199.3 million in the second quarter.

However, Mattel’s net sales fell nearly 15% to $732.1 million, as the economic fallout of the health crisis hammered demand in overseas markets.

That still beat analysts’ average estimate of $678.5 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net loss widened to $109.2 million in the quarter ended June 30, from $108 million a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company’s loss was 26 cents per share, smaller than the 34 cents per share loss analysts on average had expected.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel