Nintendo annual profit biggest since 2001

Ultrapopular DS, weak yen dumped $807 million of net income into the Mario factory's coffers last year.

When Nintendo first unveiled the DS in January 2004, many people in the game industry were skeptical. The so-called "innovative machine" was unlike anything that had been seen before, and a lot of detractors laughed off its dual screens as a gimmick.

Two years later, it's the executives at Nintendo who are laughing. Today, the company reported its biggest annual profit since 2001. For the financial year ending March 31, the company took in a whopping 95 billion yen ($807 million) in net income--an 8.7 percent rise from the previous financial year. The earnings beat Nintendo's own forecast, which called for a 14 percent drop in earnings for the year.

In its report, Nintendo cited two main factors for the better-than-expected earnings. First was a weaker than estimated yen, which allowed software and hardware sales in Europe and the US to boost its bottom line more than they normally would. The second factor was sales of the DS in Japan, which Nintendo deemed "favorable." That term smacks of Japanese understatement, as the handheld has been a sensation in the country, selling more than 5 million units and sparking the ongoing brain-training game craze.

Today's news was especially good if you owned a piece of a Nintendo. Instead of the 270 yen ($2.29) per-share payout stockholders were expecting, the company will now dole out 370 yen ($3.15) per share.

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