UPDATE 2-Nintendo sets $85 bln high score, thanks to Wii, DS

Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:43am EDT

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(Adds closing share price, analyst comments)

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO Oct 15 (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS zipped past 10 trillion yen ($85 billion) in market value on blistering demand for its red-hot game machines, having almost tripled in value since launching its new Wii console late last year.

Nintendo is now Japan's third-most valuable listed company behind automaker Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T), Japan's largest bank, and analysts see the game machine maker's shares setting more high scores.

Nintendo's Wii and handheld DS machines have catapulted the once struggling brand past Sony Corp's (6758.T) latest PlayStation consoles and Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox 360. The stock rose 5.3 percent to 71,300 yen on Monday, bringing its market capitalisation to 10.1 trillion yen -- a fivefold increase in the past two years.

Nintendo's market capitalisation is almost double that of Sony, whose total revenue is more than eight times as big as Nintendo's.

"There's more upside than downside risk," KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide said.

"There's every reason to believe Nintendo will continue to execute its strategy well in expanding the gaming industry to strengthen its position ... and really keep doing what it's been doing regardless of what competition is doing," he said.

GAME CREATOR SUPPORT

Kyoto-based Nintendo has offered innovative and easy-to-play games to expand its customer base beyond the young males who make up the core gaming market.

Games and guides on home budgeting, recipes and brain training have helped Nintendo's Wii and DS far outsell Sony's rival machines.

A program to help people care for their skin is also planned and Nintendo, known for such game stars such as Mario and Zelda, will shortly launch a "Wii Fit" home fitness game.

The new game, which features a pressure-sensitive mat that lets users "head" virtual soccer balls and experience ski jumping, is expected by analysts to be the next major sales driver for the Wii, building on demand for its "Wii Sports" software that uses a motion-sensing controller.

Nintendo said last week software publisher Capcom Co Ltd (9697.T) would develop the latest version of its "Monster Hunter" blockbuster action game exclusively for the Wii.

Capcom had developed "Monster Hunter" previously for Sony's consoles and the switch to Nintendo has raised speculation that support may be slipping for the PlayStation franchise. Capcom shares jumped 6.6 percent to 3,240 yen, while Sony edged up 0.2 percent to 5,540 yen.

Sony packed cutting-edge technology such as a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player and the "Cell" microprocessor -- dubbed a "supercomputer on a chip" -- into its PlayStation 3, offering lifelike graphics.

But the advanced components have driven up the price for buyers and made it difficult and time-consuming to develop PS3 software, dampening demand. (Additional reporting by Eriko Amaha and Nathan Layne) ($1=117.53 Yen)

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