Nintendo shares hit new high

Nintendo Co.’s stock has found a 1-Up in an unexpected place.

Shares in the videogame maker have climbed to a new two-year high, driven by rising fears of a coronavirus second wave. With cases expanding worldwide including in the U.S. and China, the stock has broken out of its two-month plateau. Nintendo’s Switch console-handheld hybrid was one of the hit products during global lockdowns, buoyed by the success of laid-back social simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

“The stock had been struggling the past two months with demand for stay-at-home stocks dropping as the economy re-opened and the state of emergency in Japan was lifted,” said Katsuyuki Fujii, an analyst at Asunaro Investment. “But as fears for the second wave of coronavirus grow, people are taking a second look at those stocks.”

The shares are close to reaching a 12-year high, with the psychologically important 50,000 yen milestone in sight. Shares traded at 48,510 as of 12:57 p.m. Tokyo time. The stock last tested similar levels in January 2018, hitting 49,980 yen, but have yet to scale those heights since.

JPMorgan analyst Haruka Mori on June 10 raised her price target for Nintendo by 18% to 52,000 yen, saying that the Covid-related demand growth didn’t look temporary. “We believe the Covid-19 pandemic has expanded earnings opportunities for the Nintendo Switch platform beyond one-off special demand,” Mori wrote.

Despite a lack of short-term causes for the stock to move, Nintendo has multiple opportunities in the mid-term, Mori said in a note, citing catalysts for 2021 that included a possible new Switch model, a price cut for existing models and advances for its team-up with Tencent Holdings Ltd. in China.

Ironically, Nintendo’s slate for the rest of the year looks remarkably bare, with no titles in its hit franchises currently set for release. This is despite Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. both preparing to spend big as they roll out new generations of their PlayStation and Xbox consoles this holiday season. Sony announced more than 20 new titles when it showed off the PlayStation 5 for the first time last week, while Microsoft showcased more than a dozen Xbox Series X titles in May.

At Nintendo’s most recent earnings in May it had no major titles listed for release in the rest of 2020.

“The shares have remained range-bound due to concerns over the lack of upcoming titles,” Daiwa Securities analyst Takao Suzuki wrote in a note dated June 9 in which he raised his price target to 55,000 yen. “We look for new title announcements and a surge in digital sales, other than those for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

All eyes will be on the Kyoto gamemaker to say that it will hold one of its “Nintendo Direct” online presentations, which has been the company’s favored method of revealing showcase titles in recent years. It has been almost a year since Nintendo held a major one of these announcements in which it unveiled key new titles. An event concerning Pokemon will take place at 10 p.m. Tokyo time on Thursday.

A year ago, Pokemon Co., in which Nintendo owns a significant stake, announced a sleep tracking device to be released in 2020.

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Nintendo shares hit new high