Nintendo in a nutshell
Nintendo is a non-establishment Japanese company that started out making playing cards but became a worldwide sensation early in the videogame era. It’s the creator of the Nintendo console and Gameboy handheld machines, plus proprietary games and characters like Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda.
When gaming shifted from consoles to mobile, Nintendo pretty much disappeared. Its stock has languished since, despite the company’s extensive intellectual property.
That’s the main reason, I think, that the stock took such a huge leap–it came close to doubled in two weeks on 20x normal volume–when Pokemon Go was released. Not only is that game a smash hit, but its success underlines the continuing relevance and therefore the still enormous profit potential from Nintendo’s extensive intellectual property. Of course, this potential can most likely only be realized through mobile games, something Nintendo has, in a fashion bewildering to those not familiar with the company or with Japan, so far avoided as a matter of long-term corporate strategy.
Friday’s press release
After the close of business in Japan last Friday, Nintendo issued a short press release about Pokemon Go.
The release starts out with stuff anyone could have found out on Wikipedia. Pokemon Go was developed by Niantic, a spinoff from Google, not Nintendo. Nintendo participates in the game’s success, however, through its 32% ownership in The Pokemon Company (PC). PC will receive a licensing fee from Niantic, as well as compensation for continuing collaboration in Pokemon Go’s development. (Nintendo also owns an undisclosed (12%?) interest in Niantic, which might turn out to be much more valuable than any one game–but that’s not mentioned.)
The heart of the release is in the next-to-last sentence, which reads:
“Taking the current situation into consideration, the Company is not modifying the consolidated financial forecast for now.”
On Monday in Tokyo, short-term traders frightened by the press release quickly pushed Nintendo shares down by the maximum allowable daily amount (that percentage varies for each stock but in Nintendo’s case it’s 18%), where the stock stayed all day. Today the stock rose slightly.
I don’t view Nintendo’s press release as containing much news at all. I think it’s a response to an official inquiry from the stock exchange (Tokyo or Osaka) about whether there’s any reason for the unusual trading in Nintendo shares. The inquiry will have been very specific: whether Nintendo has any reason to revise up the earnings forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2017 that it has on file with the exchange. (Note: publicly traded Japanese companies are required to revise their forecasts if/when they know earnings will be +/- 25% from what’s on file.)
Nintendo’s answer: No, not at this time.
In my experience, this is a very Nintendo-like answer. It’s also typical of mid-sized Japanese companies in general. It responds narrowly to the question, and volunteers nothing more. If a revision is warranted, it will most likely only come in February. In this case, though, it probably is way too early to tell the significance of the new game.