Colby Howard

Published on April 1, 2024

Featured Article

Mattel (MAT) Short Call: 48% Alpha Based on CEO Ability

On July 31, 2017, ManagementTrack recommended a short position on Mattel (MAT), predicting that the newly appointed CEO, Margo Georgiadis, would face significant challenges in overcoming the company’s structural declines. This recommendation was grounded in a detailed analysis of Georgiadis’s leadership style, experience, and fit for Mattel’s specific turnaround needs. The prediction proved accurate, as evidenced by a 48.0% alpha generated by the close date of April 20, 2018, relative to Mattel’s competitors.

ManagementTrack’s Investigative Process

  1. In-depth Executive Analysis: ManagementTrack conducted extensive interviews with industry sources and former colleagues who had worked with Margo Georgiadis for over two decades. This provided a nuanced understanding of her leadership and management capabilities.
  2. Comprehensive Company Evaluation: Beyond assessing the CEO, our team analyzed Mattel’s financial health, market position, and the broader industry trends affecting its business model, particularly the shift towards digital toys and entertainment.
  3. Strategic Fit Assessment: We evaluated whether Georgiadis’s skills and experience aligned with the strategic challenges Mattel faced, considering the company’s need for a digital transformation and structural overhaul.

Why ManagementTrack Believed They Would Fail

  1. Mismatched Experience: Despite Georgiadis’s impressive background at Google, her experience did not translate well to the toy industry’s specific challenges, particularly in leading a company through a significant turnaround.
  2. Leadership Style Concerns: Interviews and analysis highlighted concerns about Georgiadis’s ability to inspire and manage a team effectively, critical for navigating Mattel through its structural challenges.
  3. Structural and Strategic Hurdles: Mattel’s entrenched issues, including declining margins, increased competition, and a lagging digital presence, were deemed too significant for Georgiadis to address effectively in the short term.

Outcome and Performance

The short position on Mattel (MAT) recommended by ManagementTrack on July 31, 2017, was closed on April 20, 2018. During this period, Mattel underperformed its closest competitors, generating a 48.0% alpha for our clients. This outcome validated our thesis that the challenges facing Mattel, compounded by a leadership mismatch, would lead to underperformance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Leadership Fit is Crucial: The case of Mattel underscores the importance of matching a CEO’s experience and leadership style with the company’s specific needs and challenges.
  2. Structural Challenges Require More: Even a CEO with a strong background in digital and technology may struggle to overcome entrenched structural issues without the right support and alignment from the board and management team.
  3. Investigative Diligence Pays Off: ManagementTrack’s process of combining investigative journalism with financial analysis provides a comprehensive view of investment risks and opportunities, particularly regarding executive leadership’s impact on company performance.


The Mattel case study exemplifies ManagementTrack’s unique approach to investment analysis, focusing on the critical role of executive leadership in a company’s success or failure. By rigorously assessing Margo Georgiadis’s fit for the CEO role at Mattel, ManagementTrack was able to predict the company’s underperformance and generate significant alpha for our clients. This case reinforces the value of our investigative process in identifying high-conviction investment opportunities.

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