Will Mattel Help You Retire Rich?

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Now more than ever, a comfortable retirement depends on secure, stable investments. Unfortunately, the right stocks for retirement won't just fall into your lap. In this series, I look at 10 measures to show what makes a great retirement-oriented stock.

Mixing work and play may seem like a no-no, but the toy industry has become big business around the world. Global toy giant Mattel (NAS: MAT) has certainly come a long way from the days when its Barbie franchise was a pioneer in the industry. Now, licensing deals and multimedia tie-ins play an increasingly important part of generating revenue. Can Mattel keep up with the rapid pace of change? Below, we'll revisit how Mattel does on our 10-point scale.

The right stocks for retirees
With decades to go before you need to tap your investments, you can take greater risks, weighing the chance of big losses against the potential for mind-blowing returns. But as retirement approaches, you no longer have the luxury of waiting out a downturn.


Sure, you still want good returns, but you also need to manage your risk and protect yourself against bear markets, which can maul your finances at the worst possible time. The right stocks combine both of these elements in a single investment.

When scrutinizing a stock, retirees should look for:

  • Size. Most retirees would rather not take a flyer on unproven businesses. Bigger companies may lack their smaller counterparts' growth potential, but they do offer greater security.
  • Consistency. While many investors look for fast-growing companies, conservative investors want to see steady, consistent gains in revenue, free cash flow, and other key metrics. Slow growth won't make headlines, but it will help prevent the kind of ugly surprises that suddenly torpedo a stock's share price.
  • Stock stability. Conservative retirement investors prefer investments that move less dramatically than typical stocks, and they particularly want to avoid big losses. These investments will give up some gains during bull markets, but they won't fall as far or as fast during bear markets. Beta measures volatility, but we also want a track record of solid performance as well.
  • Valuation. No one can afford to pay too much for a stock, even if its prospects are good. Using normalized earnings multiples helps smooth out one-time effects, giving you a longer-term context.
  • Dividends. Most of all, retirees look for stocks that can provide income through dividends. Retirees want healthy payouts now and consistent dividend growth over time -- as long as it doesn't jeopardize the company's financial health.

With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at Mattel.

Factor

What We Want to See

Actual

Pass or Fail?

SizeMarket cap > $10 billion$12.2 billionPass
ConsistencyRevenue growth > 0% in at least four of five past years4 yearsPass
 Free cash flow growth > 0% in at least four of past five years3 yearsFail
Stock stabilityBeta < 0.90.92Fail
 Worst loss in past five years no greater than 20%(12.9%)Pass
ValuationNormalized P/E < 1819.46Fail
DividendsCurrent yield > 2%3.5%Pass
 5-year dividend growth > 10%10.7%Pass
 Streak of dividend increases >= 10 years3 yearsFail
 Payout ratio < 75%47.4%Pass
    
 Total score 6 out of 10

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Total score = number of passes.

Since we looked at Mattel last year, the company has kept its six-point score. Shareholders are happy about a nearly 50% gain for the stock, despite the fact that it's made the shares look a lot more costly in the past year.

Mattel and rival Hasbro (NAS: HAS) have been at loggerheads for years. With the two companies fighting for market share on retailers' shelves, both have come up with impressive distribution models that help them cut costs and lock out weaker competitors.

But arguably, the greater concern for Mattel is Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) , which is doing its best to knock down those barriers to entry. By offering its own distribution network to upstart toy manufacturers, Amazon can effectively create its own blockbuster toy lines, challenging well-recognized toys from Mattel.

Still, the key to toy success lately has been licensing of popular characters from other media, especially the big movie blockbusters from Disney's (NYS: DIS) Marvel unit. Hasbro has certainly taken its share of Marvel business, but Mattel's success in landing other key franchises certainly contributes to its high margins, which put Hasbro and JAKKS Pacific (NAS: JAKK) to shame.

In its most recent quarter, Mattel posted some very strong results, with particular strength in sales of iconic brands like Barbie and Batman. Yet the future looks similarly bright. With two-thirds of toy purchases coming from emerging markets, the rise of the middle-class in countries like China and Brazil should bode well for the company's results in the long run.

For retirees and other conservative investors, Mattel's 3.5% dividend yield is extremely impressive for a well-known company in a relatively defensive industry. Combine that with limited volatility, and Mattel looks worth considering even with a valuation approaching 20 times trailing earnings.

Keep searching
Finding exactly the right stock to retire with is a tough task, but it's not impossible. Searching for the best candidates will help improve your investing skills, and teach you how to separate the right stocks from the risky ones.

If you really want to retire rich, no one stock will get the job done. Instead, you need to know how to prepare for your golden years. The Motley Fool's latest special report will give you all the details you need to get a smart investing plan going, plus it reveals three smart stocks for a rich retirement. But don't waste another minute -- click here and read it today.

Add Mattel to My Watchlist, which will aggregate our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

The article Will Mattel Help You Retire Rich? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney, Amazon.com, and Hasbro. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Hasbro, Mattel, Walt Disney, and Amazon.com, as well as creating a bear put spread position in Mattel. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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