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Nintendo nine month net profit plunges 74.3%

TOKYO, Jan 27, 2011 – Videogame giant Nintendo Co. said Thursday its group net profit plunged 74.3 percent for the nine months ended December, hit by a huge foreign exchange loss and a continued sales slump.

The maker of the hit "Super Mario Bros" series said its bottom-line profit came to 49.6 billion yen ($604 million) in the period, down from 192.6 billion yen a year earlier.

Group operating profit tumbled 46.5 percent to 158.8 billion yen for the nine months, and sales dropped 31.7 percent to 808.0 billion yen.

Nintendo said it booked a massive 84.4 billion yen in foreign exchange losses for the period, eroding profits considerably.

The strength of the Japanese currency has put many of the nation\’s growth-driving exporters at a disadvantage by making their products more expensive overseas and eroding their repatriated earnings.

The yen struck a 15-year high of 80.21 versus the dollar in November, but has since eased back to trade at 82.19 in Tokyo trade Thursday.

In the nine months, the video game giant released "Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition" and "Wii Party" for its "Wii" hardware as well as "Pokemon Black Version" and "Pokemon White Version" for its "Nintendo DS" consoles.

"However, sales did not reach last year\’s monthly record sales results in the United States in both Nintendo DS and Wii hardware," Nintendo said in a statement.

Nintendo left unchanged its full-year forecasts, bracing for a 60.6 percent plunge in net profit to 90 billion yen, which it announced last year after revealing its highly anticipated 3DS console would miss the Christmas season.

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The new-generation DS machine — which allows users to play 3D games without special glasses — will be released on February 26 in Japan and in March in the United States, Europe and Australia.

The gaming gadget features the trademark DS dual screens, with the upper screen providing 3D images and the other controlled by touch with a stylus.

The illusion of depth can be increased or decreased so that games can be played in both 2D and 3D, while built-in cameras allow users to take 3D pictures.

But it is facing increased competition in the space from rivals such as Apple, whose iPhone and iPad are taking a growing chunk of the mobile gaming space.

Rival Sony on Thursday announced it would launch a new handheld console, code-named NGP (Next Generation Portable) boasting cutting edge technology and 3G network compatibility.

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