April 26, 2018 / 8:09 PM / a year ago

Toymaker Mattel's first-quarter sales beat lowered estimates

April 26 (Reuters) - Mattel Inc reported first-quarter sales on Thursday that were ahead of Wall Street's lowered expectations as the toymaker sold more Barbie and Hot Wheels toys, despite losing its top customer Toy 'R' Us.

On an adjusted basis, Mattel's net sales, which excluded a $29.5 million reversal in sales due to Toys 'R' Us liquidation, rose marginally to $737.9 million in the quarter.

That exceeded the average analyst estimate of $694.38 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Analysts have lowered their sales estimates by nearly 3 percent since mid-March when the toy retailer decided to liquidate its stores.

"While Toys 'R' Us will present a near-term challenge, our transformation plan remains our focus," incoming Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz said in a statement.

Mattel named its board member and former Maker Studio executive Kreiz as CEO after Margaret Georgiadis quit the top job just after 14 months.

Shares of the toymaker, which houses popular brands such as Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels, have lost nearly half of its value over the last one year as sales have been under pressure.

The company has been trying to revitalize the line of dolls, including by changing to skin tones and adding plus-sized and hijab-wearing models.

The plan seems to have paid off as worldwide gross sales of Mattel's iconic brand Barbie rose 24 percent in the quarter. Sales of Hot Wheels brand jumped 15 percent.

Mattel's net loss widened to $311.3 million, or 90 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $113.2 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.

Selling and administrative expenses increased 28.4 percent to $424.6 million, mainly due to bad debt expense related to the Toys 'R' Us liquidation, severance and restructuring costs.

Excluding items, the company lost 60 cents per share.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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