Bloomsbury expects magic to continue

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The Independent Online

Bloomsbury Publishing expects the magic of Harry Potter to continue this year with the release of the fifth book in the series about the boy wizard slated for the autumn.

The group yesterday credited the craze for books about Harry Potter and his exploits for strong full-year results that beat analysts expectations.

Bloomsbury, which analysts estimate derives about 60 per cent of its turnover from the Potter books, said 2002 had started well with sales ahead of internal budgets.

Nigel Newton, its chairman, sought to underscore the sustainability of the wizard phenomenon amid concern from some analysts that sales of the books had peaked last year with the release of the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. "I'm very confident that people will still be reading about Harry in 100 years time," he said.

Bloomsbury expects its growing electronic reference division and its lengthening pipeline of new novels to provide further growth this year.

The group reported a 62 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the year to end-December to £9.3m on sales up 21 per cent to £61.14m. Its shares rose 17.5p to 810p.