Spider-man helps Hasbro swing back to profit

In the week that Spider-man 3 had its lavish UK premiere, Hasbro has attributed its strong first quarter results to sales of the super hero's branded toys.
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The company reported a net profit of $32.9 million (£16.4 million) in the first three months of 2007, compared with a loss of $4.9 million a year earlier. Its revenues rose 34 per cent during the period to $625.3 million from $468.2 million - with more than half of the increase boosted by sales of Marvel toys, Spider-man in particular.

Other best selling products from the firm for the period included Littlest Pet Shop and Playskool brands.

"What was most impressive about Hasbro's performance in the first quarter was the breadth of the strength in sales," said Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Sean McGowan in a research note. "This sales strength is a testimony to efforts made by the company in recent years to become less reliant on entertainment-related hits.

"We believe this was the highest level of first quarter net income in the company's history, including the Pokemon-Star Wars era of 1999-2000," he added.

Hasbro is looking forward to an extra boost with the arrival of its Spider-man toys to coincide with the release of the third film. Action figures, role play toys and vehicles are all included in the range.

The company's results come a week after Mattel also posted a first quarter profit. Analysts are now looking at the distinct possibility that 2007 could be the strongest year for toy sales within the last half decade.

"There's been a little bit of a resurgence back toward traditional toys in the market, but that said, product lines are much improved from these companies," Piper Jaffray analyst Anthony Gikas told Reuters. "We're expecting growth this year in the traditional toy category and we really haven't seen growth over the last five or six years."

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