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Mattel sales beat estimates as Barbie shines

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In this Monday, July 16, 2012 photo, Barbie products are displayed at a local toy store in Hialeah, Fla. Demand for doll brands including Barbie, American Girl and Monster High, coupled with lower sales costs and advertising expenses, helped the biggest U.S. toy maker's net income rise 20 percent in the second quarter. Mattel, which also makes Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price toys, said Tuesday, July 17, 2012, that its net income rose to $96.2 million, or 28 cents per share, in the April to June qua
Alan Diaz

Mattel, the largest U.S. toymaker, reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, driven by strong demand for its flagship Barbie and Fisher-Price brands.

Mattel's shares rose about 6 percent to $32.39 in extended trading.

Barbie's worldwide sales increased 15.8 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 as Mattel's efforts to revive sales of its signature brand gained traction.

In January, Mattel rolled out Barbie dolls in a variety of skin tones, hairstyles and outfits and in three new body shapes — tall, curvy and petite — to appeal to a larger demographic.

The launch of the new range followed two years of declining sales of Barbie dolls around the world as girls increasingly turn to other dolls, electronic toys and tablets.

The company had also changed its marketing strategy to position its dolls as more than a pretty face, with ad campaigns such as "You Can Be Anything" highlighting the potential of women in various professions.

Fisher-Price and the Wheels category, which includes Hot Wheels, were also bright spots for Mattel in the third quarter, with sales rising about 6 percent each.

Sales of its American Girl products were up 14 percent, compared with a 2 percent decline a year earlier.

Mattel in August announced a multi-year partnership with retailer Toys "R" Us Inc to have retail units of American Girl dolls and accessories in its stores.

"While we still have a critical fourth quarter to execute, we remain broadly on track to deliver on our full-year outlook," Chief Executive Christopher Sinclair said in a statement on Wednesday.

El Segundo, California-based Mattel's revenue rose to $1.80 billion from $1.79 billion. Analysts on average had expected $1.77 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income rose to $236.3 million, or 68 cents per share, from $223.8 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 70 cents per share, a cent below the average analyst estimate.