The television revival of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” by Viacom Inc. (VIAB) has catapulted Hong Kong-based Playmates Toys Ltd. (869) into the best-performing stock among the world’s toymakers this year.
The demand for action figures depicting the crime-fighting reptiles who live in New York City sewers rose about sixfold in the first 11 months of this year from the same period in 2012, spurred by the debut of the new Ninja Turtles show on the Nickelodeon network, according to data compiled by NPD Group Inc. Viacom owns the rights to the brand, while Playmates is the master toy licensee.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows Playmates shares beat those of Mattel Inc. (MAT) and Hasbro Inc. (HAS) as well as a custom index of the 18 “toys and games” companies in the Bloomberg Industry Classification System with a market value of at least $100 million. Mattel owns the Barbie brand, while Hasbro makes Transformers action figures. Guangdong Alpha Animation & Culture Co., the maker of Blazing Teens products, and Jakks Pacific Inc., seller of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, also lagged behind.
The lower panel compares operating margins for the trailing 12 months based on the most recent financial statements, with Playmates Toys’s widening to 30.5 percent, about triple the industry average, after the company returned to profit in 2012 from five annual losses. Bloomberg has a separate industry classification for home-entertainment software makers such as Nintendo Co.
“These action heroes are all the rage,” said Francis Lun, the Hong Kong-based chief economist at GE Orient Financial Group. “They’ve had a dramatic return to profitability.”
The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” show, which premiered in September 2012, was the third-highest-rated animated TV show in the U.S. last month with an average 1.6 million viewers per episode among children ages 2-11, according to Nielsen data. Michael Bay, director of “Pearl Harbor” and the “Transformers” movie series, is producing a Ninja Turtles film slated to come out in 2014 that would be the franchise’s first in seven years.
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