MAT’s Rejection of Merger Offer Not a Reason to Toy With Mattel Stock

Mattel (NYSE:MAT) has turned down another takeover bid from MGA Entertainment. Mattel stock surged higher on the news. MGA, who owns brands such as Bratz fashion dolls, Num Noms, and Little Tikes, has now failed twice to take over Mattel.

Improvements for Mattel stock not good enough

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While this rejection of MGA has offered relief to MAT stock in the short term, turning down the deal leaves Mattel in the same beleaguered state it’s been struggling in for decades.

Mattel owns some of the most venerable brands in the toy business. This includes American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels. Recently, it had also signed a licensing agreement with Sanrio (OTCMKTS:SNROF) to create toys, dolls, games, and other items based on the Hello Kitty brand. The toymaker has also renewed a separate licensing agreement with Warner Bros. to produce similar items for DC.

Conflicting “Best Interests”

MGA CEO Isaac Larian made an overture to Mattel’s CEO Ynon Kreiz in a letter dated May 21st. Mattel’s chief legal officer, Bob Normile responded on June 7th, saying Mattel’s board decided that the proposal was “not in the best interests of Mattel and its shareholders.”

The deal would have forced out Mattel’s entire board, possibly indicating the “best interests” the company protected. However, since MGA is a private company, analysts have only so much ability to evaluate the merits of the deal.

However, we do know that Mattel stock has struggled over the past few decades. At its current price, it trades at levels it first saw in 1992! The rise of electronic games has reduced the demand for the physical toys and the board games that drove its business for decades. Its most direct peer, Hasbro (NYSE:HAS), has faced similar struggles.

Competition Continues to Increase

Moreover, the emergence of e-commerce giants such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has devalued the advantage in shelf space these companies once held. This problem became worse with the closure of Toys “R” Us last year.

I do not think the demand for physical toys will go away. Also, a backlash against electronic everything could even spark a revival in physical toys. However, individual creators could utilize a site such as Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) to compete against corporate toymakers. So it is not clear that such an occurrence would help Mattel stock.

Financials for Mattel Stock Remain Poor

MAT’s financials continue to reflect this struggle. In its most recent earnings report, the company beat estimates but still lost 44 cents per share in the prior quarter. It also exceeded forecasts on revenue. Still, the $689.2 million in brought in during the quarter was a 2.9% reduction year-over-year. Thanks to cost-cutting, analysts forecast a profit next year. However, that will leave its forward P/E ratio at over 130. Moreover, costs can only fall so much, so staying consistently profitable could prove difficult.

For now, Mattel’s board rebuffs the takeover attempt, and Mattel stock benefits from a relief rally. But investors need to ask what kind of future the company has in the current business environment? With falling demand and increasing sources of competition, this company will do well just to keep itself in business. Such conditions do not leave much of a path forward for holders of MAT stock.

Final Thoughts on Mattel Stock

Turning down the merger means Mattel will continue to face more competition amid falling revenues. In fairness, this reflects more on the state of the industry than on Mattel itself. Moreover, with MGA’s financials not publicly available, assessing whether the merger would have profited holders of Mattel stock remains difficult.

However, we know that Mattel stock faces an uncertain path forward. Having struggled for more than a quarter century, management offering more of the same leaves investors with no reason to buy MAT. Until this industry consolidates or produces the toys and games today’s children want, investors should play in a different sandbox.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.

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