Nintendo sales surge, but Wii misses target by a hair

Nintendo saw big increases in sales and profits during the just-ended financial year but sales of the smash-hit Wii console missed the target by a whisker

Nintendo reported a big increase in sales and profit for its financial year just ended, although sales of its smash-hit Wii console missed their target by a whisker.

Overall sales for the year ending March 2007 surged by 90 percent to YEN 967 billion ($US8.2 billion as of the last day of the period being reported), while net profit jumped 77 percent to YEN 174 billion, Nintendo said on Thursday.

The strong growth came primarily from the launch of the Wii console in November and from increased sales of Nintendo's DS handheld machine, as well as software titles for both products.

The company shipped 5.84 million Wii consoles since its introduction, just shy of Nintendo's latest target of 6 million. The company reached the target a few days into April, just after the end of the fiscal year, said company spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa. Manufacturing plants are working flat-out to increase production of the console, but that takes time to do, he said.

Wii software shipments totaled 28.8 million units. Top selling titles included "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" and "Wii Sports."

In the current year Nintendo hopes to ship 14 million Wii consoles and 55 million software products for the device.

Nintendo's DS handheld machine shipped 23.6 million units to take total sales since launch to just over 40 million. The handheld business was helped by the launch during the year of the DS Lite, a smaller and cheaper version of the DS. It's been on sale in Japan for over a year but is still difficult to buy, and large queues form outside shops when stock arrives.

Software shipments for the DS reached 123.6 million units for the year. "New Super Mario Bros." sales totalled 9.5 million units and the "Brain Age" game, which is said to stimulate the mind and defer the effects of aging, sold just over 8 million units. Sales of "Nintendogs" were just under 7 million units and "Pokemon Diamond and Pearl," which was only on sale in Japan, sold 5.2 million units.

Nintendo hopes to ship 22 million DS devices this year and 130 million DS software products.

The company forecast increased sales again this year thanks to the popularity of its games machines. It expects net sales to grow 18 percent to YEN 1.1 trillion, although net profit to be almost unchanged at YEN 175 billion.

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