Nintendo taps new president; profit improves on Switch sales

Yuri Kageyama
The Associated Press

TOKYO – Nintendo Co. reported solid sales and profit for the fiscal fourth quarter, powered by brisk demand for its Switch machines. The company also announced Thursday that it will be getting a new president.

Shuntaro Furukawa, director at The Pokemon Company, will replace Tatsumi Kimishima subject to approval at a general shareholders meeting in June.

The move is an attempt to hand over the leadership to a younger generation, said spokesman Kenichiro Matsuura.

Kimishima, 68, will retire and become an adviser to the company. Furukawa, 46, a graduate of Tokyo’s prestigious Waseda University, joined Nintendo in 1994 and has helped oversee global marketing.

Kyoto-based Nintendo has had its ups and downs over the years, but it has recently appeared to be on a turnaround track.

January-March profit for the Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games totaled 4.4 billion yen ($40 million), reversing a 394 million yen loss racked up the previous year.

Nintendo is getting a lift from strong sales of the Switch, a hybrid game machine that works as both a console and a tablet.

The company said it plans “to leverage this momentum to reach an even broader range of consumers,” pointing to the Nintendo Labo, which it rolled out this month.

Nintendo Labo allows players to use the Switch with cardboard concoctions that enable them to use it as a musical instrument, a fishing rod and other items.

Quarterly sales rose 12 percent year-on-year to 198.7 billion yen ($1.8 billion).

More than 15 million Switch consoles were sold during the fiscal year through March, according to Nintendo.

It’s expecting to sell another 20 million during the fiscal year through March next year.

The company said sales of the 3DS handheld also kept up even after Switch went on sale a year ago.

Nintendo, which brought the world the FamiCom game machine in the 1980s, is projecting profit for the fiscal year through March 2019 to grow 18 percent to 165 billion yen ($1.5 billion).

For the fiscal year through March, Nintendo recorded a profit of 139.6 billion yen ($1.3 billion), better than what it had expected.

The company said its smart device game software, such as “Mario Kart Tour,” is also performing well. Nintendo had initially shunned games for cellphones and other devices besides its own machines, but has reversed that strategy.

Other such games it has released include “Super Mario Run” and “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.”