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Strong sales boost Mattel

Thu., Feb. 3, 2011

The largest U.S. toy maker said fourth-quarter net income edged down 1 percent to $325.2 million, or 89 cents per share, while Mattel’s revenue rose 9 percent to $2.12 billion on strong sales of dolls including Barbie, American Girl and the company’s new Monster High doll line.

The fourth quarter, which includes the holidays, is crucial for toy makers. They can earn up to a third of their annual sales during the quarter.

Mattel has toys coming out this year tied into 2011 movies “Cars 2” and “Green Lantern.”

In other reports Wednesday:

• Internet company AOL Inc., which separated from Time Warner a little over a year ago, said fourth-quarter earnings rose from a year-ago period weighed down by restructuring charges. However, revenue declined on weaker ad sales and a drop in dial-up Internet subscribers. AOL is in the midst of a turnaround as it works to shed unprofitable businesses and acquire new ones that attract more customers and the advertisers who follow them.

Visa Inc. posted a 16 percent jump in fiscal first-quarter profit, helped by continued growth in debit card use and a rebound in credit card use. CEO Joseph Saunders said more than 60 percent of revenue growth in the quarter came from overseas. The company’s long-term goal is for more than half of revenue to be international.

• Fourth-quarter net income at Yum Brands Inc., owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC brands, rose 27 percent on strong overseas sales and a rebound in the U.S. Yum’s U.S. fourth-quarter operating profit rose 15 percent, led by 10 percent growth in sales at Pizza Hut restaurants open at least a year – a key barometer for restaurant performance. The figure also rose at Taco Bell and KFC. The quarter before, U.S. operating profit fell 2 percent from 2009’s third quarter. Yum’s rapid international expansion continued with 1,391 restaurants opened in 2010, 507 in China and 884 across the rest of Yum’s international business.

Time Warner Inc. beat analysts’ earnings and revenue expectations for the fourth quarter, helped by strong advertising and subscription trends. The media company said it expects 2011 earnings to grow by a percentage in the “low teens” from last year. Thanks to the fourth-quarter earnings beat, that pushed the outlook to slightly above analyst expectations. CEO Jeff Bewkes said the company will be looking to renegotiate deals with Redbox and Netflix, saying the DVD rental services don’t pay their fair share.

News Corp.’s earnings in the last three months of the year surpassed analysts’ forecasts with better-than-expected advertising revenue growth at its cable TV channels like Fox News and lower costs. The owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal posted adjusted earnings of 29 cents per share, up from 25 cents a year ago and above the 27 cents expected by analysts. Revenue grew less than one percent to $8.76 billion from $8.68 billion. Growth at its pay TV and broadcast segments was partly offset by a decline at its movie studio and at MySpace, the social entertainment site that the company is looking to sell or spin off.

Whirlpool Corp.’s fourth-quarter earnings rose 80 percent, mostly on lower costs and an income tax benefit, but the world’s biggest appliance maker said it is raising prices to help deal with higher raw material costs. The maker of appliances under brands including Maytag, KitchenAid and others noted that its cost-cutting measures, improved productivity, higher unit volume and lower incentive compensation were offset by both increased material costs and lower product prices in the fourth quarter. Chairman and CEO Jeff Fettig gave a somewhat mixed forecast for the year, saying in a statement that the company expects “positive but uneven demand” around the world in 2011.


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