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April 6, 2018
NORTH AMERICA–The most recent quarterly filings from top brands and companies have proved to be a mixed bag, highlighting the fluctating sales across categories and sectors ranging from publishing to entertainment.
Of particular interest, Jakks Pacific saw declines in large part due to the fact the company paused shipments to Toys ‘R’ Us in anticipation of and as a direct result of their bankruptcy filing. Mattel also saw declines as a direct result of the TRU bankruptcy filing.
The world’s second largest licensor, according to License Global’s annual Top 150 Global Licensors Report, reported its fiscal 2018 first quarter results. While company’s fiscal 2018 first quarter total revenues were $393 million, compared to $400 million in the prior-year period, the company's operating profit grew by 17 percent to $28 million (due to lower operating expenses) and non-political advertising revenues increased 4 percent to $88 million. Overall National Media Group revenues were $239 million and circulation revenues grew slightly compared to the prior-year period.
"We continued to aggressively execute our multi-faceted growth strategies, including growth in popular consumer brands such as Better Homes & Gardens and Magnolia Journal; expansion of our highly profitable digital activities across the company; and record retransmission revenues and related contribution in our television business, resulting in record performance for a non-political first quarter," says Stephen Lacy, chairman and chief executive officer, Meredith.
Mattel, the world’s No. 29 largest licensor, reported that worldwide net sales were down 13 percent as reported, and down 14 percent in constant currency; meanwhile, worldwide gross sales were down 13 percent as reported, and down 15 percent in constant currency.
In North America, both net and gross sales decreased by 22 percent, which was primarily driven by lower sales as a result of Toys ‘R’ Us filing for bankruptcy and tighter retailer inventory management. Things remained relatively flat on the international front, net sales increased 1 percent as reported and decreased by 1 percent in constant currency. Gross sales were flat as reported and decreased by 2 percent in constant currency.
Furthermore, gross sales for Mattel Girls & Boys Brands were $967.0 million, down 9 percent as reported and 10 percent in constant currency. Worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were down 6 percent as reported and 7 percent in constant currency; Other Girls brands were down 40 percent as reported, and down 42 percent in constant currency, which was primarily driven by declines in “Monster High” and “DC Super Hero Girls. Worldwide sales for the entertainment business were up 1 percent as reported and down 1 percent in constant currency, which was primarily driven by increases in Cars sales and offset by declines in “Minecraft” and WWE.
Fisher-Price sales were $561.6 million, down 15 percent as reported and down 16 percent in constant currency; American Girl sales were $88 million, down 30 percent versus the year prior; and Construction and Arts & Crafts brands were $84.6 million, down 29 percent as reported and down 30 percent in constant currency, which was primarily driven by declines in Mega Bloks licensed and preschool products.
WWE, the world’s No. 49 largest licensor, reported a revenue increase of 14 percent to $186.4 million, which was based primarily on the strong performance of the company’s media, licensing and live event businesses.
Revenues from consumer products in Q3 increased 11 percent to $24 million, compared to $21.6 in the prior year quarter, which was primarily due to a $2.3 million (26 percent) increase in licensing revenue that reflected higher sales of mobile video games.
WWE also saw gains in live event revenues, which increased 10 percent to $31.6 million from $28.6 million in the prior year quarter. Increased revenue from the staging of 14 additional events worldwide and an increase in average ticket prices were partially offset by a decrease in average attendance.
The entertainment company also saw a rise in its media division, which grew 13 percent to $125.2 million primarily due to the growth of WWE Network subscription revenue and the contractual escalation of television rights fees, as well as the impact of the licensed reality series “Total Bellas.”
Toy maker Jakks Pacific also reported declines in the second quarter, with net sales down to $262.4 million, compared to $302.8 million reported in same period a year ago. The company’s gross margin of 23.5 percent was also down from 31.4 percent last year, due to the minimum guarantee shortfalls, inventory impairment and the impact of low margin sales recognized in the quarter.
“The third quarter came in below our expectations in large part due to the fact we paused shipments to Toys ‘R’ Us in anticipation of and as a direct result of their bankruptcy filing. We are now working with them closely for the holiday selling season,” says Stephen Berman, chairman and chief executive officer, Jakks. “We did, however, see a number of product lines with sales growth and improved performance in the quarter, and we launched several new products that have been earmarked as hot holiday items in the fourth quarter. We are encouraged by our overall strong third quarter retail takeaway across many of our major categories, and are excited about 2018 with the addition of new major licenses such as Incredibles 2 and several others to be announced soon.
Finally, specialty retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop saw total revenues decline 1.6 percent to $82.4 million, compared to $83.7 million in the fiscal 2016 third quarter. The retailer also reported that consolidated net retail sales were $80.6 million, compared to $81.9 million in 2016. Following a 25.2 percent increase in e-commerce sales in Q3 2016, the retailer saw e-commerce sales decrease 18.2 percent, which partially reflects the expected disruption caused by transitioning to a new web platform. Consolidated comparable sales also declined 7.4 percent–which includes a 7.8 percent decrease in North America and a 5.2 percent decrease in Europe.
Meanwhile, for the first nine months of fiscal 2017, the company reported total revenues of $250.3 million, compared to $253.9 million for the same time period in 2016. Consolidated net retail sales declined slightly to $243.6 million, compared to $249.9 million for the same time period last year. Consolidated comparable sales also decreased 5.8 percent and included a 6.4 percent decrease in North America and a 2.4 percent decrease in Europe. Consolidated comparable e-commerce sales also decreased 4.9 percent, following an 11.9 percent increase last year.
“For the third quarter, we reported total revenue that approached last year’s and pre-tax earnings in line with guidance, despite expected softness in comps, due in part to continued macro traffic challenges and the disruption caused by the planned transition to our new web platform,” says Sharon Price John, president and chief executive officer, Build-A-Bear Workshop. “Normalizing for the web transition and unexpected weather impacts, we estimate our total revenue would have been slightly positive. Our ability to deliver these earnings is reflective of our focus on expanding gross margin; our strategy to transform the store base to more productive formats, which are not all included in comp sales; and the evolution of revenue streams beyond traditional stores. Toward the end of the quarter, we also built on the success of last year’s National Teddy Bear Day event and made final preparations for the early October relaunch of the Build-A-Bear website.
“We believe we are positioned to capitalize on the holiday selling season with a strong lineup of licensed and proprietary properties,” continues John. “We remain focused on evolving our strategy of delivering growth in total revenues and profit expansion while remaining disciplined in regard to capital allocation. Separately, we are excited to announce the return of our brand to Manhattan with a new Discovery store next to the Empire State Building.”
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