Lego sales soar on demand for new girls' series

Lego's sales soared 25 percent last year thanks in part to its new series of building blocks designed for girls.

The privately owned company said Thursday that on revenue of 23.4 billion kroner ($4.2 billion) its net profits grew 38 percent, to 5.6 billion kroner ($1 billion).

The company, based in western Denmark, said the Lego Star Wars and Lego Ninjago series remained among the more popular, but it was a novel rollout for girls, Lego Friends, that sold better than expected - to the extent that production units were unable to keep pace with demand.

In the United States, Lego Friends surpassed early projections, with its sales eventually increasing three times more than expected, Lego said.

The new line, which includes mini-figures in pink, a dream house with a pool, and a beauty shop, was criticized by some U.S. consumer groups as reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Lego said its share of the total U.S. toy market has quadrupled in five years. As of the end of 2012 it was 7.9 percent, up 1.6 percentage points from the previous year.

Markets in North America, Asia and Europe delivered "impressive" sales results, the toy maker said, while growth in some southern European markets were "more moderate but still in healthy single digits."

The company, which sells products in more than 130 countries, expects sales to continue to climb in 2013, but at a slower rate due to global economic uncertainty.

Lego is not publicly listed but has published earning reports since 1997. It does not release quarterly figures.