The future of American toymaker Mattel involves a lot more than just selling toys, the company’s CEO, Ynon Kreiz, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday.
Toys will always be the foundation, but it’s also about “commercializing our brands and finding transformative opportunities for us to be a part of other verticals that are directly adjacent to the toy industry,” Kreiz, who also is chairman, said in a “Mad Money” interview.
Think film, television, live events, games and music, Kreiz said, which all are a “tremendous opportunity for a company like Mattel that owns such a strong collection of … global brands that have so much resonance and appeal.”
Its well-known brands such as Fisher-Price, Barbie and American Girl aside, Mattel, as a company, has struggled in recent years as consumer tastes shift.
In April 2018, Kreiz became its fourth CEOs in four years. It was hit hard by the bankruptcy of Toys R Us, and it also underwent an investigation into accounting errors.
But in October, Mattel reported better-than-expected earnings and saw its shares jump as much as 20% in extended trading following the news.
Shares of Mattel closed up 4% on Wednesday at $11.62. While the stock remains off its 52-week high of $17.27, which it hit in February, it’s still up 16.32% year to date.
From Day One, Kreiz said his long-term vision for Mattel included a more diversified company. He pointed to his background in content creation and intellectual property — not just traditional toys — as motivator for this transformation.
He previously served as CEO of Fox Kids Europe and YouTube content network Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2014.
Already, Mattel has eight movie projects underway, Kreiz said, with well-known partners such as Warner Bros., MGM and Paramount Pictures. For example, Margot Robbie is slated to play Barbie in a movie due out next year, and Tom Hanks is going to play Major Matt Mason in a live-action film.
Kreiz said Mattel is also in the process of a “capital-light” strategy that includes reducing its manufacturing footprint. El Segundo, California-based Mattel has so far consolidated one factory in Mexico, with “more coming,” Kreiz said.
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Walt Disney.