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Mattel posts lower-than-expected quarterly sales

July 27 (Reuters) - Mattel Inc's quarterly sales missed analysts' estimates on Thursday as higher sales of Cars 3 toys failed to offset weak demand for the company's main brands such as Barbie and Fisher-Price in the United States.

Sales in the company's girls and boys brands unit, which houses its key brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels, rose 10 percent in the second quarter ended June 30, driven by the release of its Cars 3 toys.

Mattel released its Cars 3 toys, miniature models of Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm , on May 1, ahead of the film's release on June 16.

The Cars franchise has been a profitable venture for the toymaker since the launch of the movie series in 2006.

However, sales of Barbie dolls declined 5 percent and Fisher-Price toys fell 3 percent.

Net sales rose about 2 percent to $974.5 million, but missed analysts' estimate of $979.65 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's sales have declined in five of the past eight quarters.

Mattel's international sales rose 8.3 percent to $428.7 million in the quarter.

Sales in the company's Asia Pacific region, of which China is a major part, rose 16 percent to $122.2 million in the latest quarter.

Mattel is renewing its focus on emerging markets such as China where it has tied up with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Chinese parenting website Baby Tree to set up educational development and learning centres for children.

The El Segundo, California-based company's net loss widened to $56.1 million, or 16 cents per share, in the latest quarter from $19.1 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, the company lost 14 cents per share. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)