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Mattel CEO Resigns Under Pressure
By Rachel Beck   Associated Press
NEW YORK — Mattel Inc.'s embattled chief executive Jill Barad resigned Thursday after coming under fire for months for failing to revive falling sales and profits at the world's biggest toymaker.

Her departure comes as the El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel reported a steep loss for the fourth quarter, disappointing Wall Street analysts for the third consecutive quarter.

Barad was under intense pressure for months from investors and Mattel's board of directors to explain big losses at the company's newly acquired Learning Company software division and other troubles at Mattel.

With her resignation, the board of directors will take charge of the company to oversee operations and search for a new CEO. The board appointed two of its own members to leadership rolls, picking William Rollnick as acting chairman and Ronald Loeb as acting CEO.

"I think they need to look themselves in the eyes, look at what the problems are with this company and really try to figure them out," said Sean McGowan, a toy analyst at the investment firm Gerard Klauer Mattison.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Mattel reported a net loss of $18.4 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with profits of $86.7 million, or 22 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had expected the company to earn 25 cents a share.

Sales for the quarter were $1.77 billion, down from $1.82 billion a year ago.

Mattel shares, which surged 14 percent Wednesday on speculation that Barad was on her way out, slipped 6 cents Thursday to $11.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. Word of the resignation came in the final moments of trading on the Big Board.

Disappointing results have pushed Mattel's stock down by more than 60 percent from its high of $30.31 in April.

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