UPDATE 2-Nintendo Q3 profit down 23 pct; DS handheld slows
* Q3 op profit 192.3 bln yen, vs yr-ago 249.1 bln yen
* Annual op profit f'cast kept at Y370 bln; exceeds consensus
* Shares end up 2.5 pct ahead of news to hit 6-month high
(Adds fund manager comments)
TOKYO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS posted a 23 percent fall in quarterly profit as software sales for its DS handheld game player slowed and it cut the price of its Wii console, keeping its forecast for the first annual profit decline in four years.
Nintendo has ridden white-hot demand for the DS and the Wii to record profits in recent years, dethroning Sony Corp (6758.T: Cotización), which ruled the global game market for a decade from the mid-1990s.
But momentum for the once-mighty DS began to slow as it entered the fifth year of its product life a year ago, and Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Cotización) iPhone and other smartphones emerged as alternative portable game machines.
Profitability came under pressure also because Nintendo cut the price of the Wii by a fifth in the second half of 2009, responding to similar cuts by Sony and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Cotización), which offer the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, respectively.
Nintendo maintained its operating profit forecast of 370 billion yen ($4.1 billion) for the year to March. Continuación...