NEW YORK — Strong holiday demand for toys including Barbie and Monster High dolls helped push Mattel Inc.'s fourth-quarter profit up a better-than-expected 14 percent.
The company also raised its dividend and its shares rose 5 percent Tuesday.
But there were a few lumps of coal in the report, as U.S. sales dipped and weakness continued at its Fisher-Price unit.
The holiday quarter is crucial for toy makers, who can make up to half of their annual sales during the period.
Mattel, which is the No. 1 U.S. toy maker, reported Tuesday that its net income rose to $370.6 million, or $1.07 per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That's up from $325.2 million, or 89 cents per share, a year ago.
This beat the $1 per share that analysts polled by FactSet expected.
"Mattel delivered another strong year, our third consecutive year of solid performance, which I am especially pleased about given the soft global economic backdrop and the highly promotional environment, particularly in the U.S.," CEO Bryan G. Stockton said in a statement.
Mattel's quarterly revenue edged up 1 percent to $2.15 billion from $2.12 billion. But that missed Wall Street's estimate of $2.22 billion.
A 2 percent drop in U.S. sales was offset by stronger results overseas, where revenue rose 5 percent.
.Barbie sales rose 6 percent in the quarter. Sales of for Mattel's Wheels segment — which includes the Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco R/Co brands — increased 5 percent. American Girl sales rose 4 percent. But sales for Fisher-Price fell 10 percent. The Fisher-Price unit makes pre-school toys such as Power Wheels.
For the year, Mattel reported net income of $768.5 million, or $2.18 per share, up from $684.9 million, or $1.86 per share, a year earlier.
Annual revenue increased 7 percent to $6.27 billion from $5.86 billion.
Mattel, based in El Segundo, Calif., is also raising its annual dividend by 35 percent.
The toy maker will pay a first-quarter cash dividend of 31 cents per share on March 9 to shareholders of record on Feb. 23. Its annualized dividend is expected to be $1.24 per share. The prior-year's dividend was 92 cents per share.
The company said that its $680 million acquisition of HIT Entertainment, the company behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, is expected to close on Wednesday. Mattel announced the deal in October. It will be the company's biggest acquisition in a decade.
Mattel's chief rival, Hasbro Inc., reports its financial results on Monday.