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Nintendo, Scoring Roaring Business, to Switch It Up With a New CEO

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Shuntaro Furukawa, left, shakes hands with Nintendo Co. Chief Executive Tatsumi Kimishima, April 26. Mr. Kimishima is being replaced by Mr. Furukawa.
Photo:

/Associated Press

OSAKA, Japan—

Nintendo Co.
NTDOY -3.20%

Chief Executive

Tatsumi Kimishima

said he would step down in June in favor of a younger executive, calling it the right time after the Switch game machine introduced last year turned into a hit.

Replacing the 68-year-old Mr. Kimishima will be

Shuntaro Furukawa,

46, currently an executive in charge of corporate planning.

I have to ask him many numbers-related questions, but there have been so many times in the past when I ended up spending so much time chatting about games.

—Analyst Hideki Yasuda talks about Nintendo’s incoming CEO Shuntaro Furukawa

Nintendo has been booming recently thanks to the Switch. It said Thursday that revenue more than doubled in the year ended March 2018 to ¥1.06 trillion ($9.7 billion) as it sold more than 15 million of the consoles.

Mr. Furukawa joined Nintendo in 1994 and has worked mainly in finance, including an 11-year stint in Germany.

At a news conference Thursday, Mr. Kimishima described his successor as someone good at building consensus among all employees rather than relying on a few “geniuses.” He said he had been eyeing Mr. Furukawa for years as a future CEO.

Nintendo “should focus on things that only we can provide,” said Mr. Furukawa. “Otherwise Nintendo would lose a reason to exist.”

Mr. Furukawa has often briefed investors and analysts about the company’s financial results. While he hasn’t developed game consoles and software himself, people who know him said he is an enthusiastic game player.

Asked what games he liked, Mr. Furukawa said a recent favorite is “Golf Story,” a role-playing sports adventure game developed by a small studio in Australia.

“I have to ask him many numbers-related questions, but there have been so many times in the past when I ended up spending so much time chatting about games,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.

Mr. Kimishima said he would remain at Nintendo as an adviser and assist the new CEO along with

Shigeru Miyamoto,

who created many of Nintendo’s famous franchises such as “Super Mario” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Mr. Miyamoto holds the title of fellow.

Mr. Kimishima, a former banker, took the top role at Nintendo in 2015 following the death of longtime CEO

Satoru Iwata.

He said it was getting difficult for him to fly around due to his age. The better-than-expected sales momentum of the Switch console made him decide it was time to pass the baton, he said.

Nintendo’s operating profit in the just-finished fiscal year rose to ¥177.6 billion ($1.6 billion) from ¥29.4 billion in the previous fiscal year.

The company said it aimed to sell 20 million units of the Switch and 100 million copies of games for the platform in the current fiscal year. Analysts called the forecast conservative and said it was likely to be raised.

Mr. Furukawa said he hoped to bring the Switch to a wider audience and pointed to Nintendo Labo, a do-it-yourself kit of cardboard gizmos such as a fishing rod and a piano that work with the Switch. He also said he wanted to turn smartphone games into a revenue pillar for the company, a goal Mr. Kimishima said he wasn’t able to fully achieve during his time in office.

Nintendo earned ¥39.3 billion from smartphone games and property rights in fiscal 2017.

For the current fiscal year, Nintendo said it would post an operating profit of ¥225 billion on ¥1.2 trillion in revenue.

Write to Takashi Mochizuki at takashi.mochizuki@wsj.com

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