Nintendo raises annual forecast after reporting best quarterly results since 2008

The Japanese company boosted its forecast for operating profit by 24% on the back of a surge in sales brought on by the coronavirus outbreak

epa08979897 (FILE) - A statue of Nintendo Co.'s video game character Super Mario stands at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, 27 July 2016 (reissued 01 January 2021) Nintendo was to release their 9 months results on 01 January 2021.  EPA/KIYOSHI OTA *** Local Caption *** 52913239
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Nintendo raised its annual forecasts a second time after continued momentum for the Switch console helped the company to its best quarterly earnings since 2008.

The Kyoto-based games company reported operating profit of 229.7 billion yen ($2.2bn), far above the 189.6bn yen average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Nintendo now expects full-year Switch sales of 26.5 million units, having already surpassed its previous projection of 24 million. The company also boosted its forecast for operating profit by 24 per cent on the back of a surge in sales brought on by the coronavirus outbreak and hit game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Shares rose as much as 2.2 per cent in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Soon to enter its fifth year on the market, the portable Switch sold 11.6 million units in the holiday period, up 7 per cent on a year earlier. Sales remained strong even after the holidays and Nintendo has sufficient components supply for now despite industrywide shortages, President Shuntaro Furukawa said.

BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2018/04/27:  In this photo illustration, a turned on Nintendo Switch with 2 Joy-Con in front of it. The Kyoto based video game company Nintendo ended its comeback year with revenue worth $9 Billion after a glorious 2017 notably with the launch of the hybrid console the Nintendo Switch, mini retro vintage game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo as well as its mobile phone video games. Also Nintendo will welcome its new president Shuntaro Furukawa in the month of June 2018. (Photo Illustration by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Nintendo expects higher sales of its Switch console. Getty Images 

He added that his company doesn’t plan to announce a new Switch model anytime soon, leaving the door open to new hardware later in the year.

"Without a Switch Pro and suite of new games such as a sequel to Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s 2020 will mark the high watermark as the Switch cycle wanes and with a difficult year-ago comparable as 2020 results were significantly boosted by Covid-19 demand," Bloomberg analysts Matthew Kanterman and Jitendra Waral, said.

Nintendo has stoked the gadget’s popularity with customised limited editions, a cheaper Switch Lite and a series of blockbuster titles driving hardware sales. Its upgraded forecast for the remainder of the year is still deemed "way too low" by Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute, who projects the company’s full-year tally will be closer to 28 million Switch units.

In 2020, Animal Crossing tapped into the need for soothing escapism during lockdowns and helped push software sales up 43 per cent to 176.1 million in the nine months ended December. The company’s digital sales more than doubled in the same period and rose from 28.6 per cent to 40.9 per cent of all software sales.

"The Switch has turned from being a console to a lifestyle product ‘tailor-made’ for Covid-19 times, with Nintendo surfing on that wave," said Tokyo-based industry analyst Serkan Toto.

Nintendo shares outperformed console rivals Sony and Microsoft in 2020 and the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have faced production and logistics setbacks that have limited their availability.

In response to those pricier and more powerful machines, Nintendo is planning an upgraded version of the Switch with the potential addition of 4K output, Bloomberg News has reported, tied to a slate of new game releases later this year. Those plans may yet be altered by component supply shortages across the electronics and auto industries.

Efforts to monetise its characters outside of software and hardware sales suffered a setback after the company postponed the debut of Super Nintendo World, located within the Universal Studios Japan theme park near Osaka, for a second time due to the pandemic.