Japan’s largest toy maker, Bandai Co., said Thursday that its group net profit for the first half of the 2002 business year jumped 27.1 percent to 7.07 billion yen from the same period last year, thanks to the popularity of its TV program characters.

The firm, which has animation production studios under its wing, boasts an army of TV and animation characters, including Gundam, Power Rangers and Digimon. Products featuring Gundam alone generated 20.4 billion yen in sales during the first half.

The group sales for the six-month period ending Sept. 30 came to 113.85 billion yen, a 3.2 percent rise from a year ago, while group operating profit grew 18.4 percent to 13.25 billion yen.

The company attributed the boosted profitability to the brisk sales of TV games featuring these characters, which stood at 14 billion yen during the period, as they enjoy larger profit margins than other products.

For overseas sales, which make up 19.6 percent of the total revenue, those in the U.S. fell by 4.3 percent and in Europe by 2.3 percent due to the lackluster performance of Digimon animation characters.

For the full year to next March, the firm projects the group net profit of 12.5 billion yen on revenue of 230 billion yen.

Sega earnings off

Sega Corp. said Thursday it has downwardly revised its group earnings forecast for the first half to Sept. 30 and for the full year to next March 31, mainly owing to sluggish sales and a higher yen.

The game software maker attributed the revision mainly to smaller-than-expected sales in its consumer product division, which includes sales of game software and toys.

Sega said it had planned to sell 6.2 million units of software in the first half, but the sales are now estimated at 4.57 million units.

Sega also cited a foreign-exchange loss of 500 million yen as a result of the higher yen.

The company revised downward its half-year net profit outlook to 1 billion yen from the May forecast of 4.5 billion yen, and its pretax profit forecast to 4 billion yen, from 5.5 billion yen.

But Sega revised upward its half-year sales projection to 95 billion yen from its earlier estimate of 90 billion yen because of strong sales in its arcade game business.

For the full year, Sega revised down its earnings projections, citing a fall in sales of consumer products and an increase in development costs and advertising expenses.

The company now expects a group net profit of 5 billion yen, down from 18 billion yen forecast earlier.

Sega said it expects a group pretax profit of 9 billion yen on sales of 200 billion yen, against the pretax profit of 20 billion yen on sales of 210 billion yen forecast in May.

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