“Challenging” Quarter for Mattel

While El Segundo, CA-based Mattel (NYSE: Mat) characterized its latest quarter as “challenging,” its dolls cataloger/retailer American Girl unit continues to be a bright spot.

Third-quarter gross sales for the American Girl brands unit increased 9% to $61.5 million, due to brisk sales in its New York-based American Girl Place retail store, which opened in November 2003.

For the quarter, net sales fell 2% to $1.67 billion for the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.70 billion last year. Net income dropped 5% to $255.9 million, compared with $270.0 million last year.

Third-quarter worldwide gross sales for the Fisher-Price Brands business unit, which includes the Fisher-Price, PowerTouch, Little People, Rescue Heroes, and Power Wheels brands, were $683.1 million, up 7% due to strong worldwide sales of core Fisher-Price and Fisher-Price Friends.

“As consumers respond to economic uncertainty, many retailers have been reluctant to take inventory risk for the holiday season,” said Robert A. Eckert, chairman/CEO in a statement. “Given this environment, our focus continues to be on executing strategies to maximize our performance at retail.”