Hasbro CEO Says He's Open to Deals Amid Mattel Merger Talk

Hasbro Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner, responding to a question about the company’s merger plans, said he would consider “add-on acquisitions,” even as the toymaker concentrates on its own strategy.

“We continue to remain open to ideas that enhance our strategic brand blueprint, but we’re very focused on executing our own strategy,” Goldner said on a conference call Monday after he was asked if Hasbro would consider a “transformative” deal. “We have looked from time to time to round that out, to build our capabilities.”

Bloomberg News reported last week that Hasbro and Mattel Inc. held recent talks about a possible merger, a deal that would unite the two largest U.S. toymakers. Hasbro approached Mattel about a potential transaction late last year, and the companies have held on-again-off-again talks about a deal, said people who asked not to be identified because the situation isn’t public.

Goldner’s remarks followed a fourth-quarter earnings report that included strong results for boy-oriented products and weaker sales of girls’ toys. Earnings rose to $1.39 a share in the period, the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company said. Analysts had projected $1.29 on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While the strong U.S. dollar weighed on results, the debut of the seventh “Star Wars” film in December helped Hasbro overcome that drag. Marvel and “Jurassic World” toys also lifted Hasbro’s Boys category, which saw a 35 percent sales gain last quarter.

Hasbro shares climbed 1.4 percent to $75.11 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 12 percent this year.

Total revenue rose 13 percent to $1.47 billion in the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 27. Analysts had projected $1.37 billion. If it weren’t for $128.1 million lost to currency effects, the growth would have been 23 percent. The company also raised its quarterly dividend 11 percent to 51 cents from 46 cents.

The Star Wars franchise, owned by Walt Disney Co., generated about $500 million in revenue last year for Hasbro. The toymaker expects sales in a similar range this year, thanks to the release of the latest film for home viewing and the debut of a Star Wars spinoff movie, “Rogue One,” in December.

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