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Mattel is on a roll, but Hasbro struggles with lackluster Disney sales

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By Paul R. La Monica, CNN Business

As Hasbro struggles, Mattel has all the momentum in toy land.

Hasbro's fortunes are closely tied to Disney's movie slate — and there were no new "Star Wars" or Disney Princess movies during the 2018 holiday season.

Hasbro reported fourth-quarter sales and profits that missed forecasts. Its stock fell nearly 5% Friday.

Hasbro's own toy brands, including Nerf, My Little Pony and Transformers, posted a decline in sales.

But don't count out Hasbro just yet.

Hasbro could very well rebound this year since Disney has a ridiculous slate of movies on the 2019 release calendar, including "Captain Marvel" and "Avengers: Endgame," Pixar's "Toy Story 4," "Frozen 2," and the yet to be titled Star Wars: Episode IX.

Mattel, by contrast, relies on its core franchises, including Barbie and Hot Wheels. Both reported strong increases in sales last quarter. The company posted a surprise profit and sales that topped Wall Street's estimates. Mattel's stock surged more than 20%.

Although Mattel's strategy worked better last quarter, the toymaker wants to take a page from Hasbro's media-dependent playbook. It wants to take advantage of its iconic brands, planning to turn them into true multimedia franchises.

Mattel recently disclosed plans for a live-action Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie as well as a live-action Hot Wheels film. Both will be produced by Warner Bros., the studio that is also owned by CNN parent company AT&T.

Mattel also announced earlier this week that it had hired Adam Bonnett, who had spent more than two decades at the Disney Channel, to lead Mattel's TV efforts.

The closure of Toys "R" Us clearly had an impact on both companies. But consumers still bought plenty of toys during the holidays. Amazon, Walmart and Target are now among the top toy sellers in America.