'Star Wars,' 'Frozen' Products Boost Hasbro’s First-Quarter Earnings

Courtesy of Lucasfilms 2015/Walt Disney Studios
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

CEO Brian Goldner says ‘Star Wars’ revenue this year could be in line with 2015, while ‘Transformers’ revenue faced a difficult comparison in the latest period.

Toy giant Hasbro said Monday that sales of Star Wars, Frozen and Disney Princess toys boosted its better-than-expected first-quarter financials.

The company, led by CEO Brian Goldner, benefited from its first quarter of Frozen and Disney Princess sales as it won the global rights to make them from No. 1 toy company Mattel, as of the start of the year. But Hasbro in the quarter posted declines in Transformers toys as expected after a strong year-ago period.

Star Wars toys were boosted by the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “Retail and consumer demand for Star Wars remain very high,” said Goldner. “And at this early stage in the year, we continue to believe 2016 revenues could be in line with last year.”

Asked what is driving Star Wars merchandise this year, he mentioned that home entertainment for The Force Awakens “has just broken,” which should bring in revenue for the next several quarters, and this year’s Star Wars stand-alone film Rogue One looks “very exciting.” Golden called it a story that is “very relevant to global fans,” adding that classic toys will also continue to sell.

Asked about the female leads of the two Star Wars films and whether they are a key driver, Golden said Hasbro has been focusing on offering toys for “all ages and genders.”

Transformers revenue, meanwhile, saw the “most significant decline within our franchise brands” in the first quarter, he said. “New entertainment began late in the first quarter with the second season of Transformers: Robots in Disguise on Cartoon Network in the U.S. and currently rolling out internationally.”

Golden highlighted that the company is also “actively developing the next chapter of the Transformers theatrical” stories, citing that Paramount in February dated Transformers 5 for June 2017, followed by two films in the following two years.

Looking ahead, the CEO said the company is looking forward to offering product tied to Captain America: Civil War, saying it includes “all of our favorite characters from the Marvel Universe.”

Hasbro’s first-quarter earnings jumped to $48.8 million, or 38 cents per share, from $26.7 million, or 21 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 16.5 percent to $831.2 million.

Stifel, Nicolaus analyst Drew Crum said in a report: "Star Wars and Disney Princess drive [a] strong start to 2016 for Hasbro." The company's stock was up 3.8 percent at $85.62 as of 10 a.m. ET.