Activist investor looks to boost Barbie-owner Mattel's value

MONEY & BUSINESS: Activist investor looks to boost Barbie-owner Mattel’s value



Move over Ken, Barbie has a new suitor.

New York-based investment company Barington Capital Group has built an undisclosed stake in Barbie-owner Mattel and wants to swoop in to create value for shareholders, according to a letter sent to Mattel chief Ynon Kreiz.

The activist investor said Mattel’s share price — which has hovered at around $18 and despite the smash success of the “Barbie” movie — will continue to underperform, according to the press release issued by Barington CEO James Mitarotonda,

Mitarotonda wants Mattel to pursue strategic alternatives for its Fisher-Price and American Girl brands, cease what he called “excessive stock-based compensation” and launches a $2 billion share-buyback plan.

Barington also asked Kreiz that the chairman and CEO roles be separated, arguing that it would “strengthen its [Mattel’s] governance.”

Kreiz has dually served as the chair of the board of directors and the chief executive at Mattel since he joined the company in 2018.

After building an undisclosed stake in Matte, Barington Capital Group penned a letter to the toymaker’s CEO saying it can more than double the company’s share price in three years’ time. JHVEPhoto – stock.adobe.com

In the past five years, Mattel’s share price has seen less-than-20% growth.

Mitarotonda said the stock is “undervalued,” arguing that with the operating improvements proposed by Barington, Mattel has “the potential to more than double” its share price in three years’ time.

A spokesperson for Mattel told The Post that the company is reviewing Mitarotonda’s letter, adding: “We look forward to engaging with Barington as we do with all our shareholders.”

Representatives for Barington Capital Group did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The letter was earlier reported on by The Wall Street Journal.

Mattel has seen its fortunes surge in recent months thanks to the box office hit “Barbie,”

Before the release of the “Barbie” movie, starring Margot Robbie as the iconic doll, the toy giant was suffering anemic sales growth for more than a year — and had a stash of inventory that had to be deeply discounted, as The Post reported.

Sales of Barbie alone declined 23% in the first half of 2023 compared to the year-ago period, according to Mattel’s earnings statement.

Barington said it wants to separate Mattel’s CEO and chairman roles — both of which have been held by Ynon Kreiz since he took the helm in 2018. WireImage

In the week after the movie’s debut alone, Kreiz told investors that sales for its Barbie dolls jumped 14%.

The Greta Gerwig-directed film has gone to gross nearly $1.5 billion worldwide.

The movie became so popular that searches for the baby name “Barbie” even increased by a staggering 603% since April, when its trailer was released.

The blockbuster film even had a trickle-down effect to other toymakers.

Mattel had been struggling with sales until the release of “Barbie.” In the first week of the film’s release alone, sales of the iconic dolls jumped 14%. murdocksimages – stock.adobe.com

“There’s an entire ecosystem that the pink tide is lifting in toyland,” Jay Foreman, the chief executive of Basic Fun, which makes Tonka Truck and Lite Brite, told The Post in the wake of the movie’s premiere.

“Our pink Care Bears are flying off the shelves or three times as fast as they did four weeks ago,” Foreman raved.

Companies certainly weren’t prepared for the demand generated by the movie, which has grossed more than $1.45 billion worldwide to date, according to Statista.



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