Potter works his magic for publisher

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Bloomsbury, which publishes the Harry Potter books, and Argonaut Games, which developed a Harry Potter computer game, both received a sprinkling of magic from the wizard's tales.

The book publisher said yesterday its 2001 profits would exceed market forecasts, pushing its shares up 5.7 per cent to 812.5p. Sales were strong across a wide range of titles including Harry Potter, The Fourth Hand and Raptors of the World.

Bloomsbury's US operation also performed "well", it said, where titles like A Cook's Tour and Kitchen Confidential exceeded their budgets.

Argonaut Games, meanwhile, said it was "confident" of achieving royalty income expectations for the financial year, sending its shares up 2p to 50p. In particular, it noted the Harry Potter game it developed, which is published by US firm Electronic Arts, had taken the number one position in the UK PlayStation charts every week since its launch in November.

Argonaut, which received an initial advance payment for developing the game, will also receive royaltieslinked to the number of games sold. It has signed a deal for a second game.

Separately, Argonaut announced the purchase of Particle, a Sheffield-based games developer with 40 staff, for a total of £2.4m cash plus 3.5 million shares.

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