Nintendo profit to fall for first time in 6 years

Nintendo profit to fall for first time in 6 years

Tokyo: Japanese video game and console maker Nintendo Co. reports earnings for the fiscal year ended 31 March on Thursday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.

Overview: Nintendo got a boost from healthy year-end holiday sales though annual profit is still expected to fall from the record result achieved the previous year. Price reductions on the Wii — the world’s top-selling home console — to ¥20,000 from ¥25,000 in Japan and to $200 from $250 in the US before the shopping season helped to boost sales volume. The maker behind Super Mario and Pokemon games hopes to continue to woo more fans with a handheld with 3D capabilities that doesn’t require special glasses during the fiscal year through March 2011.

By the numbers: Nintendo is forecasting its first drop in profit in six years for the fiscal year through March 2010, at ¥230 billion ($2.4 billion) profit. Sales were weak earlier in the fiscal year while a strong yen and the price cuts also reduced profitability. Nintendo reaped a record ¥279.1 billion profit for the fiscal year ended March 2009. Nintendo does not break down quarterly numbers. The Kyoto-based manufacturer expected to sell 20 million Wii machines and 30 million DS machines in the 12 months through March 2010. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, expect fiscal year profit of ¥229 billion ($2.4 billion).

Analyst take: “We are expecting the results to be better than the company forecasts for the Wii," said Yuta Sakurai, analyst with Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Christmas shopping was strong."

He is reserving judgment on how the 3D machine will fare until he sees more details. Nintendo is promising more details at the E3 show in Los Angeles in June.

What’s ahead: Hopes are high for 3D games but Nintendo faces intense competition from Microsoft Corp. with its Xbox 360 and Japanese rival Sony Corp., which makes PlayStation 3. Both are also bringing 3-D gaming to their home consoles although those games require special glasses.

Stock performance: Nintendo shares have been recovering over the last three months from an earlier decline.