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Nintendo's New Leaf: Why the Stock Should Not Be Underestimated


VGChartz reported solid ongoing sales for Nintendo's 3DS handheld.

If there's ever been a more interesting time in the video game industry, I don't remember it.

We have Sony Corporation's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corporation's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One engaging in an all-out war for hardcore gamers while simultaneously setting up beachheads to make bigger non-gaming inroads into people's living rooms.

Meanwhile, we have Ouya, which managed to put together a new gaming console through an $8.5 million fundraising round on Kickstarter.

And then there's Nintendo Co., Ltd (OTCMKTS:NTDOY), which was flying high back in 2007 and 2008 before coming back down to Earth as smartphones and tablets disrupted the mobile gaming market and its legendary Wii ran out of steam.

Nintendo's most recent hardware products -- its Wii U console (released in 2012) and 3DS handheld (from 2011) -- both got off to rough starts, primarily because of weak software libraries and the lack of sheer "wow" factor.

However, as I discussed last week, the 3DS started showing signs of life after the release of the best-selling software title Animal Crossing: New Leaf outside of Japan and Korea.

During the E3 conference in June, Nintendo said AC:NL resulted in a fourfold increase in US 3DS sales.

VGChartz, which provides estimates of video game hardware and software sales, estimated that global 3DS sales were 124K for the week ending June 8 and spiked to 264K the next week.

Now, we have VGChartz's numbers for the week ended June 22, and it looks like it was another solid week for Nintendo.

Nintendo sold 201K 3DS units for the week, which while down from the big boom week, is still well above the pre-AC:NL trend.

During the four weeks prior to this two-week boom, sales were averaging 131K units per week.

3DS software unit sales have picked up as well, with 1.1 million units moving the week ended June 15, followed by 706K units the week ended June 22. In the four weeks prior, sales averaged 566K, so this was a nice bump.

On the negative side, the Wii U console continues to sell poorly, although as I've explained, expectations are extraordinarily low for that business line.

Looking forward, my bull case for Nintendo is that the underestimated 3DS is just now hitting its stride, based upon a dramatically improved software lineup, which will include new Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon titles in the back half of 2013.

And if the Wii U improves even modestly over the next year courtesy of the big-name titles on the way, including the upcoming Zelda, Mario, and Super Smash Bros. games, I would consider that an added bonus. For now, the conventional wisdom is that the Wii is more or less doomed, so in this case, just doing okay would be a homerun.

Looking forward, we'll have to see if the 3DS can sustain this higher level of sales -- and an even higher one as the next hot games come out -- but at this point, things are starting to look up.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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Position in NTDOY.
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