Propelled by strong sales in its "Toy Story 3" and Hot Wheels line -- not to mention a nice midlife bounce from Barbie -- both profits and sales rose at Mattel in the second quarter. And to boost demand for its American Girl line, the company is launching "Shine On Now," a charitable initiative run entirely on girl power.
The El Segundo, Calif.-based toy marketer says net income more than doubled to $51.6 million, compared with $21.5 million in the same period a year ago. And sales rose 13% to $1.02 billion, up from $898.2 million last year.
"With the all-important second half of the year ahead of us," Robert A. Eckert, its chairman and CEO, says in its release, "I am encouraged by the strong momentum of our product line."
Worldwide sales of Barbie, who turned 50 last year, gained 6%; sales for other girl brands rose 3%. And global sales for its Wheels business, which includes Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Tyco R/C, increased 5%. But the real star was the entertainment division, fueled by brisk sales of its Toy Story 3 products, with a 60% jump. And sales at Fisher-Price moved up 4%.
The only brand to show a dip in sales was American Girl, where sales slipped 4% to $58.9 million. The company attributed the decline, in part, to an earlier Easter.
To boost interest among its fans, American Girl unveiled a program called "Shine On Now," a new charitable initiative that harnesses the collective power of girls to donate $1 million in clothes, books, dolls, and money to four groups: Kids in Distressed Situations, National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, National Wildlife Federation, and Save the Children.
Girls can sign up to become ambassadors, and get a free, downloadable tool kit to help them raise money, volunteer and donate. Visitors to shineonnow.com can contribute up to 100 free stars each day; if they total 1 million stars by July 31, American Girl will then donate its maximum gift of $1 million to the four designated charities.
The site also includes a virtual campus for Innerstar University, an online world with games and quizzes. Entry to Innerstar U. comes with a purchase of each 18-inch My American Girl doll, which girls create from 40 different possibilities eye, hair and skin color.