The Force is strong with Hasbro as Star Wars sales push revenue into hyperspace

 
Billy Bambrough
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Press Conference
Sales of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys have boosted Hasbro's revenue, including for the remote controlled BB-8 droid (Source: Getty)

US toy maker Hasbro has reported revenue is up $170m in the fourth quarter, largely down to sales of Star Wars toys following the success of the latest film in the franchise.

Revenue rose to $1.47bn from $1.30bn from a year before, beating expectations of $1.37bn.

Growth in the company’s Nerf brand, as well as revenues from the Jurassic World and Marvel franchises, also added to the bottom line.

Hasbro also picked up the licenses for Disney Princess and Frozen from rival Mattel.

Read more: Star Wars: The Force Awakens review: The best film in the series since The Empire Strikes Back

Over the last week it was reported that Hasbro and Mattel were in talks about a possible merger.

However stronger than expected results from Mattel on the back of renewed demand for Barbie and Hot Wheels brands mean appetite for a deal has been reduced, according to analysts.

If the deal were to go ahead the combined company would control 33 per cent of the US toy market, according to Euromonitor data for 2014, potentially promting the wrath of antitrust regulators.

It's not the first time the two rivals have held merger talks. In 1996, Mattel tried to buy Hasbro for around $5.2bn, but later withdrew the offer, citing an intolerable climate.

The toy industry has been squeezed in recent years by increasing competition from mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices that are being marketed at younger audiences.

Read more: Why director JJ Abrams initially turned down Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens

The company said it is raising its quarterly dividend by 11 per cent to 51 cents per share.

Shares in Hasbro are up over 20 per cent in the last 12 months, compared to the S&P 500 losing 8.5 per cent.

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