• The Associated Press

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Nintendo Co. reported an 8.5 percent rise in annual profit, shrugging off the global slowdown that has battered other manufacturers.

Nintendo, which did not break down quarterly numbers, said Thursday it racked up a record ¥279.1 billion profit for the business year that ended March 31, up from ¥257.3 billion the previous year.

Sales edged up 9.9 percent to ¥1.839 trillion from ¥1.672 trillion, with overseas sales accounting for 87.5 percent, the Kyoto-based firm said.

“The video game industry, which was less impacted by the economic downturn than most industries, remained relatively stable in spite of the large consumer spending decline,” Nintendo said in a statement.

The numbers were moderately better than the company’s own forecasts, as well as those of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Nintendo continued to be relatively bullish about the future, forecasting a 7.5 percent rise in net profit to ¥300 billion for the year through next March, but it expects sales to edge down 2.1 percent to ¥1.8 trillion.

Driving Nintendo’s fortunes are its Wii home console and DS portable, which have proven popular around the world.

The Wii hit 50 million unit sales faster than any video game machine ever, reaching a cumulative 50.39 million since its launch in late 2006. The Nintendo DS has also done well, already selling 101.78 million.

The results showed that machine sales fell short of the company’s targets, although it lowered its forecasts for shipments recently.

Nintendo had expected to ship 26.5 million Wii machines for the year that ended in March, but the number was 25.95 million. It sold 31.18 million DS machines during the fiscal year ending in March, although it had expected to ship 31.5 million.

Nintendo expects to sell 26 million more Wii machines in the year to next March 31, and 30 million more DS machines, including some of the revamped DSi handsets, which went on sale in Japan late last year and last month in the U.S. and Europe.

Nintendo said it also has promising game software in the works, including “The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks,” expected to appeal to a wide range of game fans, for the DS, and “Wii Sports Resort” will be launched for the Wii worldwide.

In the business year just ended, “Pokemon Platinum Version,” “Mario Kart Wii” and “Brain Age 2” were strong sellers.

David Gibson of Macquarie Research in Tokyo expects Nintendo sales to continue to grow in both hardware and software in the coming months.

“A forecast of stable hardware units would confirm our view that the game cycle has not peaked yet,” he said in a recent report.

In software, Nintendo is planing to sell 180 million DS games around the world, down from 197 million for the business year that ended on March 31, while sales of games for the Wii are expected to pick up to 220 million from 204.5 million.

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