Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY.L), the independent publisher of the Harry Potter books, upgraded its revenue and profit expectations for 2020 as more people take up reading amid lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
It also said its Bloomsbury Digital Resources unit did well due to an increase in demand for remote access to learning materials by academic institutions.
Shares in the company soared 7% on Wednesday morning.
“Bloomsbury announces that revenue is expected to be ahead and profit significantly ahead of upgraded market expectations for the year ending 28 February 2021. This surpasses the guidance provided in our statement on 29 January 2021,” it said in a statement.
It added that its board considers current consensus market expectation to be revenue of £171m ($234m) and profit before taxation and highlighted items of £14.8m.
CEO Nigel Newton said: "The popularity of reading during lockdown is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark last year. February, the final month of our financial year, saw an exceptional sales performance for Bloomsbury as the surge in reading continued."
He added that while "we do not yet know how consumer behaviour will change as academic institutions, shops and leisure activities reopen and whether this popularity will continue as restrictions are lifted" the company is confident "in the underlying strength of our business, the quality of our titles and content and our long-term strategy."
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Bloomsbury said the upgrade follows “exceptional” February trading in its consumer division. Sarah J Maas' new novel 'A Court of Silver Flames' was one of its best performing titles.
Other bestsellers published in 2021 included ‘Outlawed’, ‘We Are Bellingcat’ and ‘Piranesi’.
Meanwhile, sales of its older titles remained strong, in particular of the Harry Potter series, Song of Achilles and Dishoom.
Bloomsbury said its financial position is strong with net cash of £54m at 28 February 2021. The company is now assessing opportunities to invest this cash balance to deliver attractive shareholder returns. This includes organic investment initiatives and acquisitions.
Bloomsbury also said it has repaid the £63,000 of UK government furlough funding it received, and has not applied for any further support.
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