Latest Potter book works its magic on Bloomsbury

The best-selling author J K Rowling worked her magic on the Bloomsbury publishing group yesterday, by announcing that the sixth Harry Potter novel would hit the shops in July.

The news sent shares in Bloomsbury up more than 8 per cent to hit a record high of 296p as investors anticipated a buying frenzy for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Sporting Index, the spread betting company, predicted more than 2 million copies would be sold in the first 24 hours of its release, topping the 1.7 million UK sales on the first day Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released in July 2003.

Analysts raised their 2005 profits forecasts for Bloomsbury by about 6 per cent yesterday. They expect profits of £18m, compared withprevious estimates of about £17m without the Potter release.

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