Booming sales of the popular Wii and DS game machines lifted Nintendo Co.’s earnings 77 percent in the latest fiscal year as the Japanese gamemaker held its own against bigger rivals Sony and Microsoft.
Nintendo reported a group net profit of 174.29 billion yen ($1.47 billion) in the year through March, up dramatically from 98.38 billion yen a year earlier.
Sales soared 90 percent to 966.53 billion yen ($8.13 billion) from 509.25 billion yen in the previous year, powered by brisk sales of its handheld DS machine and its wand-wielding Wii console, the Kyoto-based maker said in a statement.
Nintendo did not release fiscal fourth quarter figures. But subtracting nine-month profit from the full-year figure showed that the latest quarter’s earnings rose almost sevenfold to 42 billion yen ($355 million) from 6.2 billion yen a year earlier. Quarterly sales almost tripled to 253 billion yen ($2.12 billion).
The Wii has pummeled its rivals going head-to-head in next-generation video game consoles like the Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, which has been plagued by production problems, and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360, which has sold sluggishly outside of the U.S.
With its “Wiimote” — a motion-sensitive remote control wand that can be used as a sword, tennis racket or fishing rod depending on the game — the Wii has been a surprise hit among children, women and older players, catching on far beyond the traditional gamer niche of young males.
The Wii faced some minor problems early on with its wand, which flew from the hands of some enthusiastic players, snapping its wrist strap and sometimes crashing into TVs. But that hasn’t dented the company’s profits or stopped the console from selling well.
Nintendo said it sold 5.84 million Wii machines worldwide in the five months since its release late last year, 2.37 million in the Americas, and 2 million in Japan. The company said it expected to sell a further 14 million Wii units in the fiscal year ending in March 2008.
The maker of “Pokemon” and “Super Mario” games also said it was seeing robust sales of its Nintendo DS portable, which has sold 40.29 million units worldwide since its launch in late 2004. It expects to sell 22 million more this year.
In-house game software sales also did well for Nintendo. Its “Brain Age” brain-training game for the DS machine — which has been a hit with elderly gamers — has sold 12 million copies worldwide.
Other hot-selling titles such as “New Super Mario Bros.” and “Nintendogs” for DS, and “The Legend Zelda: Twilight Princess” and “Wii Sports” for the Wii, are expected to further boost profits in the coming year, the company said.
Nintendo shares, which have more than doubled over the last year, closed flat at 37,200 yen ($312) shortly before earnings were announced.
Nintendo predicts a 0.4 percent rise in group net profit to 175 billion yen ($1.47 billion) for the next fiscal year, with an 18 percent rise in sales to 1.14 trillion yen ($9.58 billion).