Nintendo saying 'Wii' over Q4 profit

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TOKYO -- Spectacular sales of the DS portable console and the Wii have propelled Nintendo's fourth-quarter profit into record territory, the company said Thursday.

The biggest maker of hand-held games players reported a nearly sevenfold increase in the quarter, with net income up ¥42.4 billion ($356 million) in the three-month period ending March 31, an enormous leap from the ¥6.2 billion reported for the same period a year earlier.

Said Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Miyagawa: "We are operating at full capacity in the production of our hardware because these last three months have been unprecedented in the industry."

"We had been expecting demand to tail off in the first few months after the launch of the Wii," he added. "But instead we have seen even stronger sales in hardware as well as our software titles."

Operating profit for the Kyoto-based company stood at ¥58.4 billion ($489 million), a steep rise from ¥7.6 billion 12 months earlier, while sales for the quarter came to ¥253.9 billion ($2.1 billion), an impressive rise from ¥96.9 billion previously.

The powerful performance was not unexpected, due largely to the global popularity of its two mainstay consoles.

The company behind the "Nintendogs," "Super Mario Bros." and "Pokemon" games sold 9.12 million DS hardware units in Japan alone in 2006, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told reporters Thursday, underlining the company's strength in a market in which sales of 6 million units is considered impressive.

For this year, it has set a global target of 22 million units, while it also anticipates sales of 14 million Wii consoles -- whose unique motion-sensor controller gives the player the feel of playing tennis or fishing.

The Wii also has been credited as an effective form of physical exercise, boosting sales among middle-aged people.

"We are very happy with these record sales and profit results, but we are going to try to do even better next year," Miyagawa said.
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