By Sam Nussey
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nintendo Co Ltd on Tuesday made a play for the hearts of retail investors, announcing a 10-1 stock split effective Oct. 1, a long-called-for move that aims to improve the liquidity of the videogame maker's shares.
The surprise announcement came as Nintendo said it expects sell 21 million Switch games consoles in the financial year that started on April 1, down 9% year on year and the second annual fall, as the company grapples with component shortages.
Component shortages have continued into this year and it is not possible to say when they will end, Nintendo President Shuntaro Fukurawa told a news conference.
Demand for the Switch in its sixth year on the market has been boosted by the November launch of a model with an OLED screen, which sold 5.8 million units through March, but the upgraded device remains in short supply.
The Kyoto-based company's stock split comes as a string of tech firms, including Amazon.com Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc, have made similar moves in recent months.
Such splits are often seen as positive for the share price of companies as the lower cost makes them more accessible to some investors.
Nintendo's shares are up 5% year to date and closed flat at 56,360 yen ahead of its earnings announcement.
The gaming firm sold 23.06 million Switch consoles in the year ended March. That compared with a forecast of 23 million it made in February.
Nintendo, which depends on in-house titles to drive games sales, expects to sell 210 million units of software this year, down from 235 million last year.
The company has a strong pipeline despite the delay of the sequel to "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" to spring 2023, with upcoming titles this year including "Splatoon 3".
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Jason Neely and Andrew Heavens)