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Mattel Insiders in a Buying Mood

November 20, 1999|Bloomberg News

Five Mattel Inc. executives and directors bought $3.1 million in stock last month, three weeks after shares of the world's largest toy maker had their biggest drop in almost 17 years, new filings show.

The biggest buyer was director John Vogelstein, vice chairman and president of Warburg Pincus & Co., who paid $1.9 million for 150,000 shares at prices as low as $12.75.

Shares of the El Segundo-based maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars tumbled 30% on Oct. 4 after Mattel warned that its third-quarter profit would miss forecasts because of slow software sales at its Learning Co. unit. Some analysts said the buying may indicate that the shares, which have lost two-thirds of their value in the last year, have bottomed.

"When they have bought this much stock, it's a pretty strong statement that the stock is oversold," said David Coleman, editor of Vickers Weekly Insider Report. "This is particularly aggressive buying by Vogelstein."

On Friday, Mattel's shares (ticker symbol: MAT) eased 31 cents to close at $14.06 on the New York Stock Exchange.

But not everyone is convinced the stock offers great value.

"Insider buying is a plus and they likely think the stock is cheap," said money manager L. Roy Papp, chairman of L. Roy Papp & Associates. But he said some of the buying could simply be a symbolic show of support for beleaguered Mattel Chief Executive Jill Barad.

"I'm not convinced" it's time to buy, he added. "Some of the brands aren't worth as much as they used to be, especially Barbie."

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