Harry Potter publisher expects bumper profits amid reading boom

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A child holds a copy of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," at Waterstone's bookshop in central London 21 June, 2003 REUTERS/Sinead Lynch/File Photo

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Jan 26 (Reuters) - Bloomsbury Publishing expects annual profit and revenue to top market expectations, led by strong sales of literature across all age groups, the Harry Potter publisher said on Wednesday.

The outlook follows a record half-year profit boosted by lockdown reading during pandemic restrictions and earlier printing of titles ahead of Christmas to manage supply challenges hitting many industries. read more

"Supply chain issues saw retailer purchases materially ahead of normal," analysts at Peel Hunt said in a note. "Clearly, Christmas sell-through has been good."

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Current market expectations call for revenue of 197.1 million pounds ($266 million) and profit before tax and other items of 20.1 million pounds, Bloomsbury said.

"Revenue is expected to be comfortably ahead and profit materially ahead of market expectations for the year ending 28 February 2022," it said in a statement.

Shares in Bloomsbury jumped more than 11% to 367 pence on the London Stock Exchange by 0830 GMT. The stock gained about 25% in 2021 and has more than doubled since its 2020 lows during the start of the pandemic.

The company also highlighted momentum at its digital resources business that offers online research tools and learning for students, teachers and librarians.

The unit, which has benefited from online learning during the pandemic, should make an annual profit of 5 million pounds, in line with the targets set out in 2016, Bloomsbury said.

Aside from the ever popular Harry Potter series of books Bloomsbury's titles include 'Paradise' by the 2021 Nobel literature prize winner Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah.

($1 = 0.7406 pounds)

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Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Elaine Hardcastle

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