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Bandai Co., Japan’s leading toy maker, on Wednesday reported a 5.3 percent increase in operating profit for the first half, boosted by its Power Rangers and Mobile Suit Gundam products.

Revenue for the six-month period through Sept. 30 rose 5.3 percent to 119.93 billion yen. Net profit fell 4.9 percent to 6.73 billion yen due to higher tax payments and losses stemming from the company’s investment in a bankrupt confectioner.

Operating profit from its main toy and hobby business surged 64.6 percent to 6.83 billion yen, on sales of 67 billion yen, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier.

The company attributed the strong showing to toys featuring popular characters such as Kamen Rider 555 and Mobile Suit Gundam.

Power Rangers figures enjoyed continued popularity overseas, with operating profit in Europe soaring 74.3 percent to 1.24 billion yen, on revenue of 7.19 billion yen, up 46.9 percent.

The proportion of overseas sales against total revenue stood at 20.2 percent during the period.

The company, which hopes to raise this ratio to 50 percent in the near future, said it will launch more popular characters in the U.S. and Europe in fiscal 2004.

Meanwhile, the company posted a decline in net profit, suffering losses on its investment in Tohato Inc., which went bankrupt in March.

The investment by Bandai was made after the confectioner went under.

Takara to get Wako

Takara Co., the nation’s No. 2 toy company, announced Wednesday it will acquire auto accessories maker Wako Corp. in a bid to expand its character merchandising business into this field.

The toy maker said it will obtain a stake of just over 50 percent in Wako by the end of March, turning the company into its subsidiary.

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