People, for the most part, like to have fun and enjoy a little recreation. Companies that can profitably create a positive recreational experience can richly reward their shareholders. The three companies discussed below are adept at doing both.
Following the brand blueprint to wealth
Over the years, toy company Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) decided that focusing on what works will serve its shareholders best. Hasbro’s brand blueprint involves leveraging its strongest properties such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, the Monopoly game, Play-Doh, My Little Pony, and Magic: The Gathering.
Brands such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and My Little Pony carry with them a legacy of good memories for adults approaching middle age that they want to pass on to their children, encouraging a whole new generation of consumers. In addition, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) reinvents these properties every few years by refreshing a tired old line of toys for a new generation. For example, Hasbro recently refreshed the Transformers line with the release of a whole new incarnation called Transformers: Beast Hunters.
Magic: The Gathering creates the experience of fantasy, illusion, strategy, and camaraderie cementing the interest of its consumers as well. People crave engagement and this game provides that for them.
Hasbro parlays these brands into movies, television shows, and games. It even sometimes mixes genres. Recently, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) entered an agreement with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s Lucasfilm to produce toys for the Star Wars/Angry Birds hybrid game. Hasbro also entered an agreement with Build-A-Bear where consumers can make their own My Little Pony.
Moreover, the Hub network serves as a conduit of advertising for television shows based on Hasbro related toys both old and new. As I write this Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)’s Universal Orlando Resort announced the opening date (June 20) of Transformers: The Ride – 3D which will effectively utilize the Transformers brand in a theme park fashion.
Hasbro performed decently in its most recent quarter. Its revenue and free cash flow increased 2% and 4% respectively. In 2012, Hasbro paid out a reasonable 53% of its free cash flow in dividends giving shareholders a healthy 3.4% dividend yield as of this writing.
Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) will continue to benefit from the recent release of its G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie. Hasbro’s licensed toys will get a boost from the Iron Man 3 release and the upcoming Thor movie. Moving further out into the future, the next Transformers movie due for release in 2014 will certainly reinvigorate that brand once more. A future craze created by the scheduled 2015 release of the next Star Wars movie will most certainly benefit Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS)’s licensed Star Wars line up.
The dolls that laid the golden eggs
While traditional brands represent the strength of Hasbro, the strength of toy rival Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) lies in its new brands such as American Girl and Monster High. Worldwide sales of Barbie, Wheels category, and Fisher-Price all decreased 2%, 2%, and 7% respectively in Mattel’s most recent quarter. American Girl, by contrast, increased 32%. Monster High contributed to a 56% increase in Mattel’s Other Girls Brands segment.
The success of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT)’s product mix leans heavily toward dolls while Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS)’s success depends more on action figures. Mattel’s CEO invests heavily in determining the psychology behind doll demand.
Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT)’s overall sales increased 7%; however, free cash flow declined 187% due to a stark decrease in working capital. This represents a seasonally down quarter for the toy industry meaning that free cash flow will probably pick back up as the year progresses. In 2012, Mattel paid out 40% of free cash flow in dividends. As of this writing, Mattel currently pays a dividend of $1.44 per share per year translating into 3.2% dividend yield.