Bloomsbury Publishing lifts guidance again as sales jump
Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury Publishing lifted its guidance for 2022 again on Wednesday as it reported a surge in annual profit and revenue as people increasingly turned to reading during the pandemic.
In the year to 28 February 2021, pre-tax profit rose 31% to £17.3m on revenue of £185.1m, up 14% on the previous year. Bloomsbury said this compared to industry revenue growth of 2%.
The company lifted its final dividend by 10% to 7.58p a share and declared a special dividend of 9.78p a share.
Bloomsbury said its consumer division had delivered a "stellar" performance, with revenue growth of 22% across the adult and children’s divisions. "Our diverse consumer portfolio included backlist titles which really struck a chord with readers throughout the pandemic on themes such as humanity, social inclusion, escapism, fantasy, cookery and baking," it said.
In the non-consumer division, meanwhile, Bloomsbury Digital Resources saw revenues grow 49% to £12.4m.
Bloomsbury said that given "the ongoing momentum and strength" of its business, it expects revenue to be ahead and profit to be comfortably ahead of market expectations for the year ended 28 February 2022. Consensus expectations are for revenue of £177.5m and pre-tax profit of £17.4m.
Chief executive Nigel Newton said: "The popularity of reading has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark year.
"These results are ahead of expectations and represent our third upgrade this year. These performances demonstrate the strength and resilience of our strategy of publishing for both the general and academic market."
At 1045 BST, the shares were up 6.8% at 330p.
Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: "Bloomsbury has been prioritising its academic and professional publishing arm as part of its growth strategy and a focus on digital resources served it well during the pandemic.
"Even with returning lots of cash to shareholders, Bloomsbury has plenty of money in the bank and this may raise questions over the prospect of acquisitions to boost its footprint and take advantage of a buoyant market."