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Toymaker Mattel reported a surprise jump in North America sales in the third quarter driven by Barbie, even as the Toys R Us liquidation and slowdown in China hurt overall revenues. 

The California-based company said on Thursday net sales in North America grew 4 per cent — that followed a 14 per cent decline in the second quarter and a 22 per cent drop in the year ago quarter. 

That helped send Mattel shares, which are down 10 per cent year-to-date, up more than 6 per cent in after-hours trade.

Overall net sales fell 8 per cent from a year ago to $1.44bn — with international sales down 18 per cent — reflecting the impact from the Toys R Us liquidation and a slowdown in its China business. That was just shy of analysts’ expectations for $1.49bn, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

Mattel, which has revamped its Barbie brand in recent years introducing dolls with various skin tones and body shapes, said sales of its Barbie brand jumped 14 per cent to $374.7m. However sales across all its other major brands fell with American Girl posting the steepest drop, down 31 per cent year-on-year. 

Mattel’s results follow a disappointing showing from Hasbro, which earlier this week blamed the Toys R Us bankruptcy and strong dollar for a sharp drop in third-quarter sales and profits. 

“We are proud to say that we recaptured our position as the number one toy company globally in each of the last four months through September, according to NPD,” chief executive Ynon Kreiz said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this year Mattel announced more than 2,200 job cuts as part of its turnround as the company attempts to invigorate sales. The toy company said in September it was launching a film division, attempting to emulate the success of rivals that have repositioned themselves as entertainment groups.

“We are on track with the execution of our strategy and have made meaningful progress towards restoring profitability, as we transform Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company,” Mr Kreiz said. 

The company swung to a profit of $6.3m or 2 cents a share in the three months ended in September, compared with a loss of $603.3m or $1.75 cents a share in the year ago quarter. Adjusting for one-time items, earnings of 18 cents a share missed estimates for 20 cents. 

Operating income jumped 41 per cent from a year ago to $122m — the first year-on-year growth in two years. Meanwhile, gross margin improved by 1.1 percentage point to 42.6 per cent.

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