By Dhanya Skariachan
(Reuters) - Mattel Inc (MAT) topped Wall Street's profit estimates for the third quarter, benefiting from strong demand for its chubby-faced American Girl dolls and its Monster High line depicting the teen descendants of famous monsters.
The toy company, the world's largest, also said on Wednesday that it would pay a cash dividend of 36 cents a share in the current quarter, bringing the total for the year up 16 percent from the 2012 payout. Its shares rose 5.7 percent to $43.90 in premarket trading.
The news comes as manufacturers and retailers gear up for the holiday season, the biggest selling period of the year. Rival Hasbro Inc (HAS.O) is due to report its quarterly results next week.
"The upside performance gives us increased confidence going into the holiday season," said MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler, who called the company's holiday lineup "solid."
Mattel's toys for the big season include additions to the Thomas the Train, Sofia the First, Max Steel and Planes brands, along with a Barbie campaign centered on a new Dreamhouse.
Mattel, also home to brands such as Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, said third-quarter net income rose to $422.8 million, or $1.21 a share, from $365.9 million, or $1.04 a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.12 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 6 percent to $2.21 billion, beating the analysts' average estimate of $2.17 billion.
Total Barbie shipments rose 11.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to figures that supply-chain data company Panjiva pulled for Reuters.
Barbie sales increased 3 percent, after posting declines in the previous four quarters. The iconic doll, which was launched more than 50 years ago, had been overshadowed by the Monster High dolls.
Sales were up 20 percent for American Girl and up 28 percent for Mattel's "other girls' brands," which include Monster High. Sales were flat for the Fisher-Price brand and fell 9 percent at the unit that includes Hot Wheels toy cars.
(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)