April 23, 2019 / 11:08 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Bumblebee movie boost transforms Hasbro first quarter

(Adds analysts earnings estimates; Updates shares)

April 23 (Reuters) - Toymaker Hasbro Inc reported a surprise quarterly profit on Tuesday as the box-office success of Transformers movie spin-off "BumbleBee" charged sales of the action toys, sending its shares up 16 percent.

A departure from director Michael Bay's action-heavy "Transformers" franchise, "BumbleBee" was the first film to come out of an expanded partnership between Hasbro and Paramount Pictures and made $470 million worldwide after its release late last year.

Hasbro has been focusing on deals with production houses to boost sales of its action toys as it recovers from the impact of the liquidation of key customer Toys 'R' Us last year.

Revenue from the company's franchise brands segment, which includes Transformers and other long-running brands including Play-Doh and Monopoly, rose 9 percent to $393.6 million in the quarter ended March 31, way past analysts' average estimate of $361.7 million.

Earnings of 21 cents per share also beat the consensus market expectation of an 11 cent per share loss as sales surged past expectations.

The company has also poured more money on virtual games as kids spend more time on electronic devices, including shifting its Magic:The Gathering collectible cards into virtual form.

Revenue from the company's entertainment, licensing and digital business jumped 24 percent to $92 million, primarily due to a new e-sports program based on the online version of the card game.

The results were a major recovery from Hasbro's $112.5 million, or 90 cents per share, loss a year earlier, when it was hammered by $61 million in costs caused by the bankruptcy of Toys "R" Us.

The company also cut its selling, distribution and administrative costs by about 31 percent year-on-year to $225.3 million.

Net revenue rose 2.3 percent to $732.5 million, compared with expectations of a near 8 percent fall. (Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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