Six weeks ago I wrote that video game stocks were going to be a good play for the duration of 2007 - - and probably well into 2008.
As I said at the time, anyone with a 12-year-old boy in the house recognizes the familiar hoots and hollers from the den or playroom, when the kids fire up the Wii and really get rolling. For my part, I don't mind as long as my boys balance out the Wii time with some fresh-air, outside time. Inside, I'm just happy a Wii console hasn't crashed through my TV screen. But the sheer joy of these boys playing Wii bowling or baseball is amazing to watch.
From an investment standpoint, never mind a cultural one, there's something happening here. I know I've told this story before, but long-time Fidelity Magellan fund manager Peter Lynch made millions for himself and his investors simply by strolling through the mall on Saturday's and noting where all the foot traffic was headed. If it was the Gap, then Magellan bulked up on the Gap. If it was Home Depot, then Home Depot would get a financial shot in the arm come Monday.
The same thing is happening in rec rooms all across the world with Nintendo and the Wii. And it's starting to show up in Nintendo's financial statements.
Earlier today, Nintendo reported that its net profit in the first half of the year through September more than doubled from a year earlier on the high demand for its Nintendo DS portable game and Wii standalone home-use video game consoles. Nintendo says it expects to sell 28 million Nintendo DS portable game consoles and 17.5 million Wii consoles this fiscal year. A press release from the company said that brisk demand, along with a weak yen, allowed Nintendo to lift its full-year earnings guidance.
Altogether, Nintendo posted net profit of 132.42 billion yen (US$1.16 billion) in the first half, compared to 54.34 billion yen ($477 million) in the same period last year. Operating profit surged 181.3 percent to 188.78 billion yen ($1.65 billion). Revenue rose 132.5 percent to 694.80 billion yen ($6.1 billion).
Nintendo said global sales for its Nintendo DS dual-screen portable game consoles reached 13.35 million in the half, from 10.09 million the year before. The company also delivered 7.33 million Wii consoles during the period. Remember, Nintendo only launched the consoles in November, 2006.
Nintendo said it now expects to sell 28 million Nintendo DS portable game consoles and 17.5 million Wii consoles this fiscal year, significantly higher than its previous sales projections of 26 million and 16.5 million.
For the full year to March 2008, Nintendo is now projecting net profit of 275 billion yen ($2.41 billion), operating profit of 420 billion ($3.7 billion) and revenue of 1.55 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). That's way up from Nintendo's forecast back in In July, when the company forecast net profit of 245 billion yen ($2.4 billion), operating profit of 370 billion yen ($3.25 billion) and revenue of 1.40 trillion yen ($12.3 billion).
Sure, the lion's share of short-term future growth for Nintendo will come from the holiday shopping season, but so what? The Wii and the portable DS have hardly hit critical mass yet -- I don't have the exact figures but there are way more than 28 million boys and girls without Wiis or DS's spread out across the globe. The market opportunity is off the charts.
I'll keep an eye on Nintendo and some of the other high-end video game makers. It's a bull market these days and, if we can manage to keep the consoles from hurtling through our TV screens, we'll be hearing and seeing a lot more from Nintendo in 2008.