Nintendo’s better-than-expected results suggest the Covid-era boom in gaming that turned Animal Crossing into the world’s online town hall has legs. The Kyoto-based studio reported operating income of 119.5 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the March quarter, trouncing the average forecast of 68.3 billion yen.
It forecast 500 billion yen in operating profit this year, although Nintendo, like many Japanese companies, often begins the fiscal year with a conservative outlook so it has room to raise the figure later. The company is targeting sales of 25.5 million consoles in the current year ending March 2022. That’s after selling 28.8 million Switch units in the prior fiscal year, surpassing the 26.5 million it projected.
President Shuntaro Furukawa told analysts Thursday Nintendo’s goal was to surpass its official goal of selling 190 million Switch software units this year.
The handheld-hybrid Switch maintained momentum in the face of widespread component shortages and newer gaming machines from Sony Group Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Nintendo’s signature device rode blockbuster titles including Capcom Co.’s latest Monster Hunter installment and Konami Holdings Corp.’s Momotaro Dentetsu during the period.
Nintendo’s own product lineup has been relatively quiet in recent months. Bloomberg News has reported that the company plans a big rollout of new titles alongside an upgraded version of the aging Switch -- with faster Nvidia graphics and a Samsung OLED display -- in the latter half of the year. The original console is now more than four years old and was joined by a more affordable Switch Lite variant in late 2019.
What Bloomberg Intelligence Says
Nintendo needs to drive software sales, live services and mobile games to support earnings growth beyond this fiscal year ending March, in our view, as the Switch platform enters the mature phase of its cycle. Switch hardware sales may peak in 2020 absent a reported but as yet unconfirmed Pro version, putting greater onus on software to drive profit.
- Matthew Kanterman and Nathan Naidu, analysts
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The coronavirus outbreak was at first a brake and then an accelerant for Nintendo, choking its supply chain before triggering a demand surge with global lockdowns driving people to seek entertainment and escape. The company’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons turned into the ideal virtual hangout for stress relief, juicing Switch sales and hastening the transition from packaged software to digital downloads.
Nintendo’s shares closed 1.7% lower Thursday before the results, taking losses this year to 6.4%.