Closer ties between Walt Disney and Hasbro led the toy maker to report a big 16% increase in first-quarter sales, aided by still-strong demand for Star Wars and the inclusion of a new license tied to the studio’s popular princesses.
Hasbro’s (HAS) investors cheered the results, sending shares up around 5% in recent trading as results were better than expected. Growth was broad for the first quarter, with sales of “boys” toys up 24% and the “girls” category increasing an even more impressive 41%. Overall, revenue grew to $831.2 million from $713.5 million.
That increase is far more drastic than Hasbro typically reports in the first quarter, traditionally a lean period for toy makers that often see their strongest sales in the final three months of the year. Hasbro is benefiting from the late 2015 release of a new Star Wars film. It also benefited from winning the Disney Princess fashion doll licensing business from rival Mattel (MAT), a loss that was so severe that Mattel executives had to outline a detailed explanation as to how they would fill the $440 million revenue gap.
“Retail and consumer demand for Star Wars remained very high,” CEO Brian Goldner told analysts during a conference call. He said the initial consumer response to Hasbro’s line of Disney Princess characters was “very positive.”
The Princess line will see some added diversity this year in the form of two new properties. An upcoming Disney Junior TV show called Elena of Avalor is centered around a Hispanic protagonist, while Moana is a feature film due from Disney later this year that’s set in ancient Oceania.
The Hasbro-Disney relationship is also tied to some future movies planned for Disney’s Marvel properties, including the upcoming Captain America Civil War film and a movie that’s planned for Spider-Man next year. Goldner said that Hasbro can also aim to build excitement about the Star Wars property when the film is released on home video later this year.