- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Her marketing slogan once was “We Girls Can Do Anything,” but Barbie isn’t doing much to help her manufacturer’s bottom line these days.

Officials at El Segundo, California-based Mattel Inc. announced another troubled earnings quarter Thursday, with sales of the iconic 55-year-old plastic molded fashion doll plummeting despite a substantial PR push by the company, including a partnership with the Girl Scouts and an appearance in the 50th anniversary edition of Sports Illustrated’s “swimsuit edition.”

Barbie sales fell 21 percent in the third quarter as the company announced a 22 percent drop in profits, following a second quarter that saw a 15 percent dip.

“Clearly we have work to do as we enter the fourth quarter,” Chief Executive of Mattel Bryan G. Stockton said in a statement.

Experts are divided on the steep decline in Barbie’s market appeal in recent years. Some speculate that a decline in the number of customers reflects a fall in the national birth rate.

Mattel is also competing with iPads and other electronic devices and toys that did not exist when Barbie was introduced in 1959. Mattel’s income was also battered when the company lost the licensing battle for the Walt Disney Co.’s popular movie “Frozen” to rival Hasbro Inc.

It has been a steep fall. In 2009, Barbie held more than a quarter of the market share in the U.S. for dolls and accessories. That number has been falling ever since. While Mattel is still the largest doll brand in the world, its stock is down about 38 percent this year.

Mattel did not return multiple phone calls to discuss its latest earnings.

It’s not all bad news for Mattel. The Associated Press reported that the company has seen strong early sales from the new Disney Princess and Ever After High doll lines, while the company’s product lines for boys were also a bright spot. Sales for the Wheels category, which includes the Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands, climbed 4 percent.

Mattel Inc. reported a profit of 97 cents per share on revenue of $2.02 billion for the period Thursday. Its adjusted earnings came to 98 cents, which fell short of Wall Street expectations. Analysts had expected per-share earnings of $1.02, and revenue of $2.18 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

Mattel’s stock closed at $29.62 a share Thursday, down 92 cents, or 3.01 percent, for the day. The stock has lost more than $17 in value since the beginning of the year.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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