Nintendo shares hit record high on GS "buy" rating

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shares in Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS hit a record high on Wednesday after Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of the maker of the Wii game console with a "buy" rating, while speculation the firm could raise its earnings forecast again gave it an extra boost.

Shares in Nintendo rose as high as 64,800 yen, an all-time high, before closing up 2.7 percent at 64,300 yen.

Goldman Sachs’ target price for Nintendo is 71,000 yen, a 10 percent premium to the closing price.

“We believe Nintendo’s talent in creating new markets, evident from the launch of the DS and Wii, could bring it close to the level of Apple, whose high valuations are due in large part to its innovative business model,” Goldman said in a report.

Nintendo, Japan's third-most valuable company after Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 8306.T, has been benefiting from white-hot demand for the Wii and DS handheld player, overwhelming sales of Sony Corp's 6758.T rival PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable.

Apple Inc AAPL.O took the top spot in the global portable music player market away from Sony with its iPod, while Nintendo has unseated the Japanese electronics maker as the video game market leader.

Nintendo shares were also boosted by investor speculation that the Kyoto-based company may raise its earnings forecasts soon thanks to strong sales of its game hardware as well as software titles.

Nintendo raised its annual earnings forecast on October 3 last year for the second time in the business year.

For the business year to March 2008, it has already raised its forecast once.

Boosting its initial forecasts, Nintendo said in July that it expected its operating profit to come to 370 billion yen for the year to March, which is still short of a consensus of 415 billion yen in a poll of 18 analysts.