July 26, 2017 / 7:17 AM / 3 years ago

Nintendo swings to operating profit, beats estimates on Switch console sales

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd on Wednesday said it swung to a profit in the first quarter, beating analyst estimates, due to strong demand for its Switch console.

FILE PHOTO: People line up to get their hands on the Nintendo Switch game console at an electronics store in Tokyo, Japan March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

High hopes for the console has driven up Nintendo’s stock price around 60 percent since its March debut. The firm has said it expects Switch to help more than double its annual operating profit and end an eight-year sales decline that dogged its previous offering Wii U.

The company swung to an operating profit of 16.21 billion yen ($144.95 million) for the three months through June, from a year-ago loss of 5.13 billion yen.

That compared with an 11.55 billion yen Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate, which gives greater weight to recent estimates by the more consistently accurate analysts.

The Kyoto-based company reiterated its 65 billion yen operating profit forecast for the year ending March, versus the 127.94 billion yen SmartEstimate of 21 analysts. It also kept its Switch sales forecast for the year at 10 million units.

Nintendo sold 1.97 million Switch consoles in the three months through June, bringing the cumulative total to 4.7 million units. Demand has been so strong that Nintendo has found it difficult to keep up as queues get longer outside stores. Devices have even been allocated by lottery in some cases.

The company has apologized for the shortage of Switch in Japan and pledged to raise production.

Nintendo is trying to make more use of its roster of popular characters, moving into new areas for the company including smartphone gaming and theme parks.

New mobile titles, such as Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem, drove first-quarter revenue from mobile gaming and related merchandise to 9 billion yen, from 1.6 billion yen a year ago.

Nintendo shares ended Wednesday 1.3 percent higher ahead of the earnings release, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in the Nikkei benchmark index.

Reporting by Sam Nussey and Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Himani Sarkar

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