By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Lego posted a solid rise in full-year profits as the privately held Danish toy maker continued to capture market share in what it describes as a sluggish toy market.
The company said Thursday that its net profits last year rose 12 percent to 4.2 billion kroner ($750 million) as sales of its popular plastic building blocks rose 17 percent to 18.7 billion kroner.
"For the eighth year running, the Lego group captured market shares in 2011 in a sluggish toy market," the company said. The Billund, Denmark-based company said its global market share was 7.1 percent in late 2011, up from 7 percent in 2010.
Classic lines like Lego City and licensed products based on Star Wars, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean generated the largest sales, but the group said all product lines sold more than expected.
"It is a highly satisfactory result reflecting a solid growth in profit," said CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp.
The family owned company said Lego Ninjago, its major product launch in 2011, exceeded expectations and became the group's biggest product introduction ever.
However, Lego Universe, the online game launched in late 2010, fell short of expectations, and game development was halted in November.
The group said it expects sales to continue growing in 2012. Still, in late 2011, Lego noticed a decline in growth in some West European markets.
The company said it had forecast "a flat or slightly declining development in the overall European toy market in 2012 while modest increases are expected in the overall market for traditional toys elsewhere in the world."
The company, which employs some 9,370 people worldwide, is not publicly listed, but has published earning reports since 1997. It does not release quarterly figures.
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