Nintendo sees first annual loss, cuts 3DS forecast

Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:02am EST
 
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By Yoshiyuki Osada and Isabel Reynolds

(Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd posted a sharp drop in quarterly profit and forecast a bigger-than-expected full-year loss, its first at an operating level, as it battles a strong yen and its games devices lose ground to gadgets such as Apple's iPhone.

The creator of the Super Mario franchise dominated the video games industry for years with its DS handheld players and Wii home consoles, but is now struggling to keep up as more versatile smartphone and tablet sales boom.

"To say that (the days of consoles) are over is likely an overstatement, but social network and Internet delivered games are growing and structurally changing the future of the industry, which is a strong wind against Nintendo," said Shigeo Sugawara, senior investment manager at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management.

Nintendo now expects an annual operating loss of 45 billion yen ($575 million), dwarfing expectations of a 4.2 billion yen loss, based on the average of 21 analyst forecasts.

"Their time of growth (from consoles) is over, and, while I don't think the company will cease to exist, if they don't move into new categories, they will no doubt lose the great scale they've amassed," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management in Tokyo.

Nintendo cut its forecast for annual sales of its ageing Wii console to 10 million devices from 12 million, and for the 3DS handheld games device to 14 million from 16 million.

"We had higher expectations for the year-end season, but failed to meet them," President Satoru Iwata told reporters in Osaka.

Poor sales forced Nintendo to slash the price of its much-anticipated 3DS handheld games device in August, just six months after its launch.   Continued...

 
<p>A man walks past Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s video game software titles at a Yamada Denki electronics retail store in Tokyo January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>