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Mattel execs’ stock dump after Barbie bump raises ‘red flags’

A stock selloff by Mattel executives in the wake of the blockbuster “Barbie” film has raised eyebrows and “red flags” among some Wall Street watchers.

The stock sales, while perfectly legal experts stressed, may mean Mattel’s brass believe the pink tide that lifted the company’s value has crested, according to VerityData, an investment research firm that tracks insider buying, selling and buyback activity.

“When we see insiders selling aggressively into the the rise of the stock it raises red flags about the sustainability of this stock’s valuation,” Ben Silverman, director of research for VerityData, told The Post.

Mattel’s stock is up about 21% this year, fueled by the buzz around “Barbie,” which was released July 21 and has since grossed more than $1 billion.

The Barbie movie was released on July 21 and has already grossed more than $1 billion at the box office.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Five senior Mattel executive sold 275,800 shares over the past 10 days according to government filings. The average sale price of $21.21 netted them about $4.2 million, according to VerityData.

The trades stand out, Silverman said, because Mattel insiders rarely sell their shares.

Since July 31, Mattel officers have dumped more shares than the 248,000 sold by insiders in the previous 9.5 years, Silverman said.

Mattel’s stock is up about 21% this year, fueled by the buzz around “Barbie.”
Toni Misthos/NYPost

Three of the Mattel executives were first-time sellers, including head of human resources, Amanda Thompson, who joined the company  in 2017, Jonathan Anschell, who has been the company’s legal counsel since 2021 and Yoon Hugh, the company’s controller since 2019, VerityData found.

The others include Steve Totzke, president and chief commercial officer, and Roberto Isaias, Mattel’s chief supply chain officer, according to the firm.

All the trades were made days after the company reported its financial results on July 26, avoiding any legal impropriety but not scrutiny.

Richard Dickson speaking at a conference.
Richard Dickson, known as the “Barbie Whisperer,” left Mattel to become CEO of The Gap.
Getty Images for IPG

“Seeing five executives trading all at once, raises questions,” said Thomas Gorman, a former SEC official and current partner in law firm Dorsey & Whitney. “You don’t usually see that kind of a pattern coming out of a sophisticated company like Mattel.”

The selloff could suggests that the pop in Mattel’s stock may not be sustainable, according to VerityData.

”We are telling our clients that insiders are sending a message that the stock is over-valued,” Silverman said.

The original Barbie doll.
The iconic doll has weathered many trends, including a period when moms were “anti-Barbie,” a Wall St. analyst said.

Even before the movie was released, Wall Street experts questioned Barbie’s halo effect on the Segundo, Calif-based toy giant.

“We worry somewhat about Mattel’s long-term management of Barbie’s positioning,” wrote DA Davidson analyst Linda Bolton Weiser in a July 17 note, recalling a period 10 years ago when moms were “anti-Barbie.”

The trades by the insiders also come after longtime Mattel chief operating officer Richard Dickson – known as the “Barbie whisperer” – quit the company to take over struggling retailer Gap. 

Mattel declined to comment.

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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