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Nintendo Doubles Operating Profit, Raises Outlook

Robust holiday sales of Wii and DS game machines helped Japan's Nintendo more than double its operating profit in the nine months to December and prompted it to raise its outlook beyond market expectations.

Its Wii console, which features a motion-sensing controller, and the double-screened DS handheld game gear have opened the way to innovative new gams -- helping Nintendo attract a wide range of new users, including women and the elderly.

Wii sales last year topped beat Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, both in the United States and Japan.

Nintendo said it now expects its operating profit to total 460 billion yen ($4.3 billion) for the year to March, up almost 10 percent from a previous forecast of 420 billion yen and just above the consensus of 456.5 billion yen in a poll of 21 analysts by Reuters Estimates.

Nintendo lifted its full-year dividend forecast 9 percent to 1,190 yen from previously estimated 1,090 yen.

Operating profit at Nintendo, the home of game characters Mario and Zelda, came to 394.04 billion yen in the first nine months of the business year to March, up from 167.63 billion yen a year earlier.

Net profit almost doubled to 258.93 billion yen on sales of 1.32 trillion yen, up 84.7 percent, as gamers were drawn to its ground-breaking models.

Users of the DS can give commands using a stylus instead of a key pad, while the Wii's controller, which looks like a TV remote, allows gamers to direct on-screen play by swinging it like a tennis racket or a sword.

On top of highly popular Wii software such as Wii Sports, Nintendo last month launched a Wii Fit home fitness game in Japan, fanning the already white-hot demand for the top-selling console.

The new game features a pressure-sensing mat called the Wii Balance Board, which looks like a set of bathroom scales and can sense when a person moves and leans.

That enables players to head virtual soccer balls and experience ski jumping on a TV gaming screen.

Shares in Nintendo more than doubled last year on strong sales of its game machines and software titles, helping the company zip past some of Japan's corporate giants such as Sony and Honda Motor in market value.

Prior to the announcement, Nintendo shares closed down 2 percent at 53,100 yen, underperforming the Nikkei average, which gained 2.1 percent.

Shares in Nintendo gained 58 percent from the start of the current business year on April 1 through to Wednesday, outperforming the Nikkei average, which fell 26 percent.

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