'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Toy Sales off to "Strong Start," Hasbro Says

The franchise is "as vibrant as ever" and "has the potential to become increasingly global," says CEO Brian Goldner, but the company's stock drops.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens toy sales are off to a promising start and are "at the high end of expectations" for toy giant Hasbro, CEO Brian Goldner said Monday.

"Consumer takeaway is off to a strong start," he said on the company's third-quarter earnings conference call. "The franchise is as vibrant as ever, spanning demographics and bringing in new consumers. Star Wars has the potential to become increasingly global, much as Marvel has become as part of the Walt Disney Co."

He highlighted that through the end of September, total Hasbro Star Wars retail sales have “significantly outpaced” the total Star Wars retail dollar growth in the U.S. and U.K., two markets where early sales trends are available. He didn't provide further figures. Hasbro's The Black Series action figures and various lightsabers are on top of consumers' buying lists, Goldner explained.

Overall, Star Wars Hasbro sales trends are at the high end of management's expectations for revenue this year, the  CEO said. "It’s incredibly encouraging," he said.

He also said that during Force Friday week, which marked the global launch of merchandise tied to the new Star Wars film, action figures and role-play toys accounted for 42 percent of all toy dollars spent in the U.S., and new items will continue to hit this year and 2016.

Hasbro's boys revenue in the latest quarter, including Star Wars and preschool brands' revenue, also including the franchise, exceeded projections with revenue growth of 24 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Hasbro also mentioned that Transformers revenue was down a year after the movie release, but Goldner said it was down by just just over a third, "far better" than is typical for boys properties in non-movie years, "and that's because of the amount of entertainment." He also lauded growth for preschool product lines tied to Transformers year-to-date. Overall, he said the franchise was performing "quite well" in a non-movie year.

The CEO also said that Marvel overall and Jurassic World toys were also key financial contributors.

Despite the bullish comments, Hasbro's stock on Monday closed down 7.2 percent at $72.18.

"In our view, the weakness reflects investor's expectations for Star Wars to drive more significant financial upside, especially given the premium valuation that had been awarded the company over the last year in anticipation of this catalyst," said MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler.

Oct. 20, 2:30 a.m. Updated with analyst commentary.


 

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