Hasbro’s profits down 71% in Q1 2011

According to Yahoo News, even Hasbro isn’t recession-proof:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hasbro Inc’s (NasdaqGS:HASNews) first-quarter profit fell almost 71 percent as it spent more to develop its new television network, while demand for games, puzzles and preschool toys weakened.

Shares of the second-largest U.S. toy company after Mattel Inc (NasdaqGS:MATNews) were down nearly 2 percent after the news on Thursday.

The maker of Nerf foam toys and Monopoly board games said it still expected both sales and earnings to rise in 2011.

Hasbro launched a children’s television network called “The Hub” in a joint venture with Discovery Communications Inc (NasdaqGS:DISCANews) late last year.

“The Hub was dilutive, more so than we and others had projected, in the first quarter,” Sterne Agee analyst Margaret Whitfield said, adding that she was not worried about it. “They are just getting going.”

Despite the weak start to the sales year, she urged investors to pick Hasbro over Mattel.

“Hasbro, over the longer term, has more growth opportunities than Mattel, with entertainment, with the cable TV and with the strong brand arsenal that it has to penetrate in globalized markets,” said Whitfield, who has a “buy” rating on both stocks.

Mattel is due to report its results on Friday. For a graphic comparing valuations of the two toy companies, click http://r.reuters.com/sak98r.

Hasbro has a huge entertainment lineup for this year, including toys based on movies such as “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” “Thor” and “Captain America: the First Avenger.” It is also planning to take Hasbro Studios television programs beyond the United States this year.

“The stage has been set for a strong year,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said.

In the first quarter, Hasbro’s net profit fell to $17.2 million, or 12 cents a share, from $58.9 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

Besides The Hub, Hasbro also invested more in emerging markets.

Sales were almost flat at $672 million, but beat the analysts’ average estimate of $660.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The revenue results included a $4.8 million foreign exchange benefit.

Globally, Hasbro’s sales of boys’ products rose 25 percent, but the company posted declines of 12 percent in games and puzzles, 13 percent in the girls’ unit and 18 percent in preschool toys.

Many retailers focused on clearing excess inventory from the holidays in the first quarter rather than ordering new toys from manufacturers, analysts have said.

Shares of Hasbro were down 1.7 percent at $44.01 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Source: Yahoo Finance

The key takeaways here are that it was a rough first quarter for our favorite Pawtucket toymaker, just as it was for retailers which focused more on clearing current inventory than they did on ordering new products.   Also, sales of boys products were up 25% while sales in other areas such as girls and games were down.  This means that division that is responsible for our favorite Real American Heroes is receiving some favorable numbers while other areas of the company aren’t looking so shiny.

With a full battery of new products hitting this year, bolstered by film-based lines featuring Transformers, Thor, and Captain America as well as the continued success of the Clone Wars animated series, I think it’s safe to say that Hasbro’s Q2 and Q3 numbers should be stronger.