UPDATE 1-Barbie maker Mattel's profit, sales miss estimates

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July 27 (Reuters) - Mattel Inc's quarterly sales and profit fell short of estimates 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.

Shares of the company fell nearly 5 percent to $20.29 in aftermarket trading on Thursday.

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.

Sales of Barbie rose briefly in 2016 after the company relaunched the iconic dolls in a variety of skin tones and body shapes.

The company, which hired Margo Georgiadis as CEO from Google earlier this year, has also embarked on a digital first plan where it would focus on online sales and offer a bigger slate of interactive toys.

Since Georgiadis took over in February, the company's human resources head and its chief information officer have left, according to a WSJ report. Earlier this month company veteran Kevin Farr also stepped down as its chief financial officer.

Mattel had also slashed its dividend payout by 60 percent to fund its turnaround initiatives.

Net sales rose about 2 percent to $974.5 million, but missed analysts' estimate of $979.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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

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.

Excluding certain items, the El Segundo, California-based company lost 14 cents per share, falling far short of analysts' average estimate of a loss of 9 cents per share. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)