July 29, 2015 / 7:19 AM / 2 years ago

Nintendo swings to first-quarter operating profit on strong figurine sales, weak yen

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd on Wednesday booked a profit for the April-June quarter, defying market expectations for a loss due to a weaker yen and strong sales of its “amiibo” figurines which are sold as accessories to its popular games.

A woman walks past a figure of "Mario", a character in Nintendo's "Mario Bros." video games, at a Nintendo centre in Tokyo July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Nintendo swung to a first-quarter operating profit of 1.1 billion yen ($9.3 million) from a loss of 9.5 billion yen a year earlier. That compared with the 6.3 billion yen average loss estimate of 20 analysts, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The firm also cited strong sales of Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles and games such as “Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzles & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition”. It said it sold 1.62 million copies of new shooting game Splatoon for the Wii U console.

The results come a little over two weeks since Chief Executive Satoru Iwata died of cancer. Just months earlier, Iwata decided to enter mobile gaming after years of resisting investor calls for such a move.

The company has not announced a successor but Genyo Takeda, one of the lead developers of Nintendo’s Wii console, and senior managing director Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Mario and Donkey Kong hit games, are widely seen as possible candidates.

Whoever succeeds Iwata will be tasked with a balancing act of avoiding cannibalizing traditional console sales while pushing aggressively into mobile gaming, analysts said.

Nintendo on Wednesday repeated its forecast for operating profit to roughly double to 50 billion yen in the year ending March, helped by its entry into smartphone games through a tie-up with online games maker DeNA Co Ltd.

The company said it still expects its first games for smart devices to be released by the end of the calendar year.

Shares of Nintendo closed down 1.1 percent, versus a 0.1 percent fall in the broader market. They have risen more than 60 percent this year as investors cheered Nintendo’s long-awaited foray into mobile gaming.

($1 = 123.6100 yen)

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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