Hasbro revenue drops on lagging sales

Toymaker Hasbro saw a surprise sales drop for the critical fourth quarter as it struggled with lagging sales of “Star Wars” toys and the woes of Toys R Us.

That comes after results from Mattel, which posted an unexpected loss for the quarter that includes the holiday season.

Hasbro’s results, announced Wednesday, underscore the challenges toy makers face. Parents are spending more of their money for toys online at sites such as Amazon, and kids are more interested in mobile devices than traditional toys.

The Pawtucket, R.I.-based company posted quarterly revenue of $1.6 billion, down from $1.63 billion and short of Wall Street forecasts for $1.73 billion.

Hasbro said higher sales of brands such as Beyblade, Marvel and Sesame Street were more than offset by a drop in Star Wars toy sales and to a lesser extent declines in Yo-Kai Watch and Disney “Frozen” products.

For the quarter, Hasbro reported a loss of $5.3 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with a profit of $192.7 million, or $1.52 per share, in the year-earlier period.

Adjusted to exclude pretax expenses and the impact of tax reform, earnings came to $2.30 per share, surpassing Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.82 per share. That helped send Hasbro shares up nearly 9 percent to $102.22.

For the year, Hasbro earned $396.6 million, or $3.12 per share, on revenue of $5.21 billion. That marks the first time since 1993 that Hasbro’s annual sales surpassed Mattel’s, which were $4.88 billion in 2017.

— Reuters

Sprint buoys profits for Japan's SoftBank

SoftBank Group, a Japanese Internet and energy company, reported Wednesday a more than 11-fold surge in profit for the fiscal third quarter thanks to strong sales and to improved results from U.S. carrier Sprint.

SoftBank, which also owns stakes in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and British computer chip and software giant Arm, said its October-December profit was 912.3 billion yen ($8.4 billion), up from 80.3 billion yen a year earlier. Quarterly sales rose 3.9 percent to 2.4 trillion yen ($22 billion).

The Tokyo-based company, which sells the Pepper robot, did not give annual forecasts, citing uncertainties, as is its usual policy.

SoftBank was the first carrier to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan and is buying a major stake in Uber.

Last year, it set up a major fund to invest in various technology companies.

— Associated Press

Fox profit, revenue up on cable, satellite

Rupert Murdoch-controlled Twenty-First Century Fox’s quarterly profit and revenue trounced analysts’ estimates on Wednesday, driven by higher sales through its cable and satellite companies.

Revenue from Fox’s cable division, which houses the Fox News and FX channels among others, rose 11 percent to $4.41 billion, accounting for more than half of total revenue in the quarter. That beat analysts’ average estimate of $4.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue at Fox’s filmed entertainment division fell 1 percent to $2.25 billion, but beat analysts’ estimate of $2.23 billion. Revenue at its television unit, which houses Fox Broadcasting, fell 5.8 percent to $1.81 billion.

Total revenue rose 4.6 percent to $8.04 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $7.94 billion.

Net income attributable to shareholders increased to $1.83 billion, or 99 cents per share, in the second quarter ended Dec. 31, from $856 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

The quarter was helped by a $1.34 billion gain from the recent changes to the U.S. tax law.

Also in Business

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said sales increased about 1 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to $10.55 billion. The company nonetheless posted a fourth-quarter loss of $758 million from a profit of $356 million a year earlier. The company said the impact of U.S. tax changes reduced earnings by $2.26 billion.

— Associated Press

Coming today

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.

Earnings: CVS Health, Twitter, Yum Brands