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Mattel reports 1st quarter loss on weak sales of Barbie, weakness internationally

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Toy maker Mattel says weak sales of Barbie and markdowns to clear out excess inventory left over from a sluggish holiday season led to an unexpected first-quarter loss. Its shares fell almost 5 per cent in premarket trading. Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets. The first quarter is the seasonally smallest for toy makers, coming after the key holiday quarter which can account for up to 40 per cent of revenue.

Advocacy groups urge Girl Scouts to end partnership with Mattel and Barbie

NEW YORK, N.Y. - America's top doll, Barbie, finds herself in controversy once again, this time over a business partnership between her manufacturer, Mattel, and the Girl Scouts. On Thursday, two consumer advocacy groups often critical of corporate advertising tactics — the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream — criticized Barbie as a flawed role model for little girls and launched a petition drive urging the Girl Scouts of the USA to end the partnership. The Girls Scouts said they would not do so.

Mega Brands reports lower Q4 net earnings of $1.4 million

MONTREAL - Mega Brands Inc. (TSX:MB), the company that makes Mega Bloks construction sets and Rose Art craft products, says that its fourth-quarter sales and profit were down sharply from a year earlier. The Montreal-based company, which recently received a friendly takeover offer from Mattel Inc., said its overall sales were down 21 per cent in the October-December period. Mega Brands' net sales fell 21 per cent in the quarter to US$101.2 million, compared with US$127.5 million in the same quarter of 2012, the company announced early Wednesday.

Business Highlights

___ Hopes up for sunnier US economy once winter fades WASHINGTON (AP) — When the weather warms up, so too will the U.S. economy. That, at least, is the prevailing view of economists, who shrugged off a government report Friday that the economy was weaker last quarter than first thought. Severe winter weather is probably slowing growth again this quarter. But as the chill and snow fade into memory, long-delayed spending by consumers and businesses could invigorate the economy starting in spring.

Toy aisles to get more crowded after Mattel agrees to buy Mega Brands

MONTREAL - Toy shoppers could face more choices in coming years as a result of Mattel's US$460-million friendly takeover of Canadian toymaker Mega Brands, the world's second-largest maker of construction sets after Lego. "I think, for consumers, you are going to see some nice, new, exciting product coming," Mega Brands CEO Marc Bertrand said Friday.

Toronto stock market closes little changed amid generally positive economic data

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed little changed Friday as late-day caution about unrest in Ukraine competed with a mixed bag of economic data from Canada and the United States. The S The Canadian dollar was up 0.5 of a cent to 90.3 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that fourth-quarter economic growth came in at an annualized pace of 2.9 per cent.

Mattel makes friendly takeover offer of Canadian toy maker Mega Brands for $460 million

TORONTO - Mattel Inc. has made a friendly takeover offer for Canadian toy maker Mega Brands Inc., which has the world's No. 2 line of construction sets after Lego. The deal values the Montreal-based company at US$460 million, including debt that the American industry giant will assume or repay. Mattel manufactures Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars among numerous other toys. The company says Mega Brands will help it expand in two of the fastest-growing product segments: construction sets and arts and crafts.

Barbie doll features in this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

NEW YORK, N.Y. - After 50 years of debate over her unattainably perfect figure, Barbie now is unapologetic about her tiny waist and endless legs. To prove it? The doll, which is made by Mattel, is flaunting her frame in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's 50th anniversary issue that's hitting stands on Tuesday. She'll be featured alongside supermodels like Christie Brinkley and Brooklyn Decker as part of a campaign called "unapologetic."

What a doll! Barbie to grace Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue

By Karen Brooks AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Red-blooded beauties, step aside: a plastic Barbie doll will join a generation of iconic stunners next week in the Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary Swimsuit edition. Striking a pose in the black-and-white swimsuit she wore for her debut in 1959, Barbie takes her place alongside a host of legendary SI Swimsuit alumni as part of a new promotional campaign with the magazine, Mattel officials said.

Mattel shares fall on disappointing holiday quarter, weak Barbie sales

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Mattel says it was a tough time in toyland this past holiday season. Shares of Mattel dropped more than 9 per cent in premarket trading Thursday after the world's largest toy maker said sales of key toys like Barbie and Fisher-Price preschool items dropped in its fourth quarter. CEO Bryan Stockton called 2013 a "challenging and transformative year at retail."
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