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Hasbro Surges as Bet on Board Games Pays Off

Feb. 7, 2017
In a digital world, Hasbro pushed in its chips on physical games — and is now reaping the holiday-season rewards of its biggest stock bump in 16 years.

Hasbro Inc.’s decision to stick by Monopoly and other traditional games — a daring move in an increasingly digital world — is paying off after a robust holiday season boosted the shares the most in 16 years.

The toymaker bucked  lackluster results at Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. and Mattel Inc., thanks in large part to games like “Pie Face” and “Magic: The Gathering.” The unit increased sales 11% to $518.7 million in the fourth quarter, the company said. That, along with its first Christmas season with the primary Disney Princess and Frozen license, helped the company top analysts’ estimates for profit and sales.

“Hasbro’s gaming portfolio is unparalleled,” CEO Brian Goldner said on a call with analysts. “It addresses broader demographics and play experiences better than any other company.”

Hasbro shares advanced as much as 17% to $96.34 on Friday, the biggest intraday gain February 2001. The stock already had gained 10% in the 12 months through Friday.

Revenue rose 11% to $1.63 billion, beating analysts’ $1.5 billion average projection, Hasbro’s second straight strong performance. Profit was $1.64 a share, excluding some items, according to the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company. Analysts projected $1.28, on average.

When computer tablets went mainstream earlier this decade, sales of traditional games suffered as consumers spent more time on mobile devices. That trend has since waned as adults and kids have reverted back to in-person experiences. Last year, industrywide sales of games in the U.S. rose 21% to $307 million, according to NPD Group.

Hasbro gained share in major markets including the U.S., the U.K., China, Brazil and Russia, Goldner said. The toymaker saw strong demand across the world, especially in the U.S., he said. That countered Mattel, which said sales significantly slowed down in the first three weeks of December.

The company also increased its quarterly dividend 12% to 57 cents a share. That marked the eighth straight year it boosted the payout.

By Matt Townsend

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