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Hasbro 4th-quarter results miss Wall Street's view, weighed down by charges

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Hasbro's fourth-quarter net income edged down, a disappointing holiday season hurt by one-time charges and weak sales of its Beyblade spinning top game and Marvel toys.

But the company also boosted its dividend, and its shares rose 5 per cent in Monday midday trading.

Investors were also reassured that the weakness was concentrated in the boys area, a unit that is sure to turn around when new movies come out, said Needham & Co. analyst Sean McGowan. A new "Spider-Man" movie is due out in May, a new "Transformers" movie in June and a "Star Wars" movie in 2015.

Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro said Monday that sales of toys in the boys' category dropped 16 per cent in the quarter. Preschool sales dipped 1 per cent. There was strength in the girls' category, which saw a 19 per cent sales increase. Sales of games climbed 2 per cent.

The November and December holiday season are key for toy makers, because they can make 40 per cent or more of their annual revenue then. But sales of traditional toys have been pressured as children turn more to electronic gadgets like tablets and smartphones.

The company said it had strong growth in its girls brands including My Little Pony and Nerf Rebelle. But boy's toys like Beyblade were weaker.

Last month rival Mattel Inc.'s fourth-quarter results missed analysts' estimates as sales of toys like Barbie and Fisher-Price preschool items dropped.

For the three months that ended Dec. 29, Hasbro earned $129.8 million, or 98 cents per share. That compares with $130.3 million, or 99 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding restructuring charges, pension costs and product-related charges, as well as a benefit related to a legal settlement, earnings were $1.12 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of $1.21 per share.

Revenue for the Pawtucket, R.I., company was basically flat at $1.28 billion. Analysts expected $1.3 billion.

Hasbro said its full-year net income fell 15 per cent to $286.2 million, or $2.17 per share, from $336 million, or $2.55 per share, in the previous year. Adjusted earnings were $2.83 per share.

Annual revenue dipped to $4.08 billion from $4.09 billion.

Hasbro also announced Monday that it is raising its quarterly dividend by 8 per cent to 43 cents per share from 40 cents. The dividend will be paid May 15 to shareholders of record May 1.

The company's stock rose $2.62, or 5.2 per cent, to $52.71 in midday trading. It had fallen 9 per cent so far this year.

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