Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Viacom International Media Networks And LeapFrog Announce Partnership To Bring Videos Of Popular Nickelodeon And Nick Jr. Shows To The LeapFrog App Centre

According to the following article from Toy World, the business magazine with a passion for toys, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) and the educational entertainment company LeapFrog have announced a partnership to bring videos featuring the popular Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon Preschool (Nick Jr.) properties "SpongeBob SquarePants", "Dora the Explorer", "The Fresh Beat Band" and "Go, Diego, Go!" to LeapFrog's award-winning learning platforms in the UK and Ireland. Nickelodeon content will also be available in the LeapFrog App Center in Australia, New Zealand and Canada:
LeapFrog to distribute Nickelodeon content

Content including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer is now available on LeapFrog’s App Center in the UK and Ireland.

LeapFrog and Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has announced a partnership to bring Nickelodeon’s videos to LeapFrog's award-winning learning platforms in the UK and Ireland. Videos are now available for purchase in the Just for Fun section of the LeapFrog App Center for the LeapPad and LeapPad2 tablets, and learning video game systems, Leapster Explorer and LeapsterGS.

Engaging content from SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, The Fresh Beat Band and Go, Diego, Go! is now available. The videos will join LeapFrog’s library of learning games, eBooks, videos, music and more that have been reviewed and approved by LeapFrog’s team of educational experts. Nickelodeon content will also be available in the LeapFrog App Center in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

John Barbour, CEO at LeapFrog Enterprises, said: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Nickelodeon to now offer their popular shows to children around the world. Our highly experienced team of educational experts worked closely with the Nickelodeon team to select their most popular videos and carefully reviewed each to ensure it was age appropriate for LeapFrog children. Every video in the LeapFrog App Center will deliver world-class entertainment in a unique and safe environment featuring characters they love.”
Also, from Toy News, the toy industry's essential trade website:
LeapFrog partners with VIMN for Nickelodeon content

Nick videos will now arrive on firm's learning platforms across key territories.

Viacom International Media Networks has teamed with LeapFrog to bring Nickelodeon videos to learning platforms in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Content from series such as Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer is being offered for LeapFrog's LeapPad1 and LeapPad2, as well as learning video games systems Leapster Explorer and LeapsterGS, for the first time internationally.

"We are delighted to offer young fans other platforms to interact with their favourite Nickelodeon characters," said Philip O'Ferrall, SVP, digital media at VIMN. "This partnership with LeapFrog is a great opportunity to provide kids with educational and entertaining content from Nickelodeon's beloved stories and characters.

"LeapFrog's commitment to providing safe entertainment programming for kids fits in perfectly with the Nick Jr ethos of 'a smart place to play'.

John Barbour, CEO at LeapFrog Enterprises, added: "Every video in the LeapFrog App Centre will deliver world-class entertainment in a unique and safe environment featuring characters they love."

Tags: leapfrog, nickelodeon, viacom consumer products
Also, from the Peninsula Press:
With three of nation’s top four digital toys, LeapFrog reports strong sales

The LeapPad 2 was one of the nation’s top-selling digital toys last year. [...]

Thanks to the popularity of its educational products like the LeapPad 2 and Leapster GS, LeapFrog Enterprises (NYSE: LF) reported robust fourth quarter and year-end sales.

The Emeryville-based company had three out of the four best-selling digital toys last year and was dubbed the leader in educational entertainment by retail tracker, NPD Group. With an additional boost by healthy holiday sales, the toymakers posted consistently robust year-end results throughout 2012. Full 2012 net sales hit $581.3 million, up 28% from last year’s $455.1 million. The company reported year-end net income of $86.6 million, or $1.24 per diluted share, compared to $19.9 million, or 30 cents per share, for 2011.

For the eighth straight quarter, LeapFrog beat analyst expectations, Fourth quarter net sales were $244.7 million, a 16 percent increase from $210.2 million this time last year. The company also reported net income of $62.3 million, or 89 cents per share, compared to $32.8 million, or 49 cents per share, for the same period a year ago. Excluding one-time charges for deferred tax assets, the company reported adjusted earnings of 60 cents per share. Analysts had expected returns of 48 cents per share.

Strong earnings are typical for the fourth quarter, since LeapFrog usually has strong seasonal sales. Despite Black Friday’s usual promotional pricing, the LeapPad 2 [which does what?] sold out on Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us and Walmart at the full $99 price.

LeapFrog designs educational platforms for children. Its line of child-targeted tablets have been a hit on the market with the LeapPad 2, LeapPad Explorer and several other products among the top 10 toys sold in the U.S. last year. While LeapFrog faces increasing competition from other kid-friendly tablets, Chief Executive Officer John Barbour said he is confident in his products’ appeal.

“Most parents know that taking a cheap adult tablets putting a colorful rubber bumper around it and filling it with free, fuzzy apps and Wi-Fi access does not create a true learning experience that will significantly prepare children for a competitive future,” he said on the company’s earnings call with analyts. He also dismissed analyst concerns regarding LeapFrog’s increased inventory balance, attributing it to advanced production for 2013 as well as old, outdated products on their way out.

Another one of the company’s driving forces was its content sales both independently and through third parties. Though LeapFrog produces its original products, it has branded movies and apps for sale through outside vendors like iTunes.

LeapFrog’s performance is a small beacon of light in the overall flagging state of the toy sector, which is quickly moving to digital products, such as the tablets that LeapFrog makes. Industry giants Hasbro and Mattel have yet to adapt to the shifts and are paying the price. Hasbro warned of disappointing fourth quarter reports while Mattel’s fell slightly below analyst expectations.

With an increasingly tech-savvy generation of children to satisfy, LeapFrog is in a comfortable position to focus on considerable expansion in 2013, particularly internationally. It recently inked deals with Viacom International Media Networks to expand its Nickelodeon content to overseas markets in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

“International grew much faster than the U.S. in 2012 and I think this will happen this year even though some of their Spanish projects won’t come out for a year, year and a half,” said Edward Woo, a senior research analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets LLC.

Two days before LeapFrog announced earnings, Ascendiant downgraded its stock from “strong buy” to “buy.” After today’s earnings call, Woo maintains Ascendiant’s stance.

“We like the company overall but there are a few concerns we have with the competition,” he said. “It’s difficult to do in the toy business, to keep repeating other hot products.”

LeapFrog will have to invest substantial;y in R&D in 2013, I as it faces more competition, with other kid-centric tablets flooding the market recently.

“They are investing for international growth and expansion but you really won’t see any of that come to fruition until 2014,” said Michael Swartz, Vice President of Equity Research at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “You won’t have them in time for the ’13 holiday season.”

Looking ahead, the company said it expected sales to rise 10 percent in the first quarter.

LeapFrog shares traded up 2.98 percent midday Thursday after earnings were reported to $8.99 at the 4pm close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares rose 5.23 percent in after hours trading to $9.46. On Friday, the stock closed down at $8.79 per share.