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: Pandemic bookworms and ‘Harry Potter’ fans drive huge gains for book publisher Bloomsbury


Shares in Bloomsbury Publishing

soared more than 8% on Wednesday, after the company behind the “Harry Potter” books delivered record results, amid a renewed enthusiasm for reading among people stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

 “The popularity of reading has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark year,” said Bloomsbury Chief Executive Nigel Newton in a statement on Wednesday.

Profit before tax rose 31% to £17.3 million ($24 million) in the 12 months to Feb. 28, on revenue of £185.1 million, up 14% on the previous year. Bloomsbury said this compared with industry revenue growth of 2%.

The London-based book publisher lifted its final dividend by 10% to 7.58 pence a share, and declared a special dividend of 9.78 pence a share.

Bloomsbury’s stock rose 8.58% in midmorning trading in London on Wednesday. The shares have risen 14.29% in year to date, according to FactSet.

Read: ‘An organic, social-media phenomenon’: TikTok is driving a surge in demand for young-adult fiction novels

The company said its consumer division had delivered a “stellar” performance, with revenue growth of 22% across the adult and children’s divisions. 

Bestselling titles included “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge, “Eat Better Forever” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, as well as J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books. The fantasy novel “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas was another top selling title.

Given “the ongoing momentum and strength” of its business, Bloomsbury said it expects revenue to be ahead and profit for 2022 to be “comfortably ahead” of market expectations. Consensus expectations are for revenue of £177.5 million and pretax profit of £17.4 million.

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