* Q4 sales $141.1 mln vs est $124.4 mln
* Sees Q1 loss/shr $0.61-$0.64 vs est loss/shr $0.48
* Sees FY 2012 EPS $1.01-$1.07 vs est $1.03
Feb 21 (Reuters) - Toy maker Jakks Pacific Inc posted wider-than-expected quarterly loss and forecast a weak first quarter as heavy discounting eats into its margins.
Toy companies faced flagging sales in 2011 and stepped up discounting to attract bargain-hungry shoppers during the year-end holiday shopping season.
Last month, the world’s largest toy company Mattel Inc posted quarterly sales below analysts’ estimates and said it sees higher input, labor and transportation costs in 2012. The maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, however, said it would raise prices of its toys to combat rising costs.
Earlier this month, the second-largest U.S. toy company Hasbro Inc also reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales in the holiday quarter.
Coming off a year in which U.S. toy sales fell 2 percent, toymakers like Jakks are looking for new ways to attract shoppers this year including reaching back to the past with classics from the 80s and turning to facebook for hits.
Jakks, which also competes with Leapfrog and Mega Brands Inc, forecast a first-quarter loss of 61 cents to 64 cents per share, while analysts’ were expecting a loss of 48 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In October, Jakks had turned down a $670 million, or $20 per share, offer from Oaktree Capital Management, calling the bid “inadequate.”
The company’s shares, which closed at $15.06 on Friday on the Nasdaq, have shed about a quarter of their value since trading at around the bid price after the offer was made in September.
For the fourth quarter, the company posted a net loss of $20 million, or 77 cents a share, compared with earnings of $8.9 million, or 30 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding items, the company lost 72 cents per share.
Malibu-based Jakks — which makes toys under brands such as Pokemon, Hello Kitty and The Smurfs — said sales fell to $141.1 million, from $198 million, last year.
Analysts, on average, had expected a loss of 62 cents per share on revenue of $124.4 million.