Barbie Struggles to Make Comeback

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Barbie’s comeback is still a ways out.

Sales of Mattel Inc.’s doll brand, its biggest product, tumbled 19 percent last quarter, dragging down overall results for the toymaker. Total revenue fell to $988.2 million, missing analysts’ $991.9 million estimate.

Barbie has lost market share to other dolls -- including some of Mattel’s own brands, like Monster High -- and faces mounting competition from the girl-oriented Lego Friends line. Barbie also has drawn increasing flak for her unrealistic body proportions. Last Christmas, “Frozen” toys unseated Barbie as the No. 1 holiday gift for girls.

“Getting Barbie back on the trajectory we want will take time,” Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson said in a conference call Thursday after second-quarter results were released. Still, new marketing campaigns in the U.S. have had a positive impact, he said. “We’re working hard to extend our domestic momentum on the brand to all key markets worldwide.”

Mattel’s shares fell 3.3 percent to $24.31 on Friday in New York. The stock is down 21 percent this year.

The strong U.S. dollar also hurt results by crimping the value of overseas sales. Even so, cost cutting helped bolster earnings last quarter. Profit amounted to 1 cent a share in the period, excluding some items. That beat analysts’ predictions for a 4-cent loss, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“While 2015 is largely expected to be a rebuilding year for many of Mattel’s beleaguered brands, we expect brand performance will remain lumpy as the narrow-moat company rights its ship,” Jaime Katz, an analyst at Morningstar Inc., said in a note on Friday. “Second-quarter results indicate as such.”

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