Toy maker Hasbro profit tops estimates; sales miss

Pawtucket, R.I.,,Mon Oct 22, 2012 – Hasbro Inc. topped Wall Street profit expectations on Monday as better inventory management helped offset weak sales at the second-largest U.S. toymaker.

The news came after larger rival Mattel Inc. also reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by price increases and cost controls. The maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars said it was well-positioned for the holidays.

Hasbro, whose brands include Monopoly, G.I. Joe, Nerf and Mr. Potato Head, has been working with its U.S. retail partners to better manage inventories this year. It has been trying to shift toy deliveries closer to peak demand periods.

It struggled during the 2011 holiday season when demand in the United States and Canada tapered off after a strong start to what is typically the biggest selling season of the year.

On Monday, Hasbro CFO Deborah Thomas said it plans to step up its marketing efforts in what she described as “an environment of significantly lower U.S. retail inventory.”

The toymaker said it expects to “grow revenues and earnings per share” for the full year 2012, excluding the impact of foreign exchange.

Net profit in the third quarter fell to $164.9 million, or $1.24 a share, from $171.0 million, or $1.27 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected $1.20 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The weakening euro zone is the “most significant” risk to the company’s 2013 outlook, executives said. In an interview with CNBC, Oberhelman said, though, that China appeared “to be on the edge of something of a recovery.”

Shares fell 1.1 percent to $82.92 in premarket trading.

For the third quarter, the company posted profit of $1.7 billion, or $2.54 per share, compared with $1.14 billion, or $1.71 per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $2.26 per share. By that measure, analysts expected $2.22, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Target bets on QR codes, exclusive toys this holiday

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Wed Oct 3, 2012 – Target Corp. hopes that letting shoppers scan, buy and ship a selection of toys while shopping in its stores and having hundreds of exclusive toys will help drive sales this holiday season, one of its executives told Reuters.

Starting Oct. 14, Target will feature 20 toys at the front of its aisles promoted with signs featuring QR codes. Shoppers with smart phones can scan the codes, those squares with dark boxes and lines, to buy any of those items and have them shipped free.

“Providing this convenience for mom is about ensuring that she’s able to shop the way that she wants to,” said Stephanie Lucy, Target’s vice president of toys and the mother of two who knows about not wanting to ruin the surprise of the holidays.

Giving shoppers this new way to buy merchandise could help differentiate Target from its rivals including: Toys R Us, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Inc.

The holiday season accounts for the bulk of toy sales at Target and other U.S. chains. Last year, Target’s toy sales were hurt by Walmart’s layaway push before Thanksgiving. Unlike some other major toy sellers, Target does not offer layaway, which gives shoppers the ability to put goods on hold and pay over time.

Instead, Target uses sales coupons, and free shipping and small discounts for its credit-card holders.

Target’s fourth-quarter sales rose 3.3 percent last year, with sales at stores open at least a year up 2.2 percent, down from a 2.4 percent rise during the year-earlier holiday season. The company has not yet given a forecast for the holiday season, and Lucy declined to give a projection for toy sales.