Harry Potter Publisher Hands out Meaty Dividend After Bumper Profits

Harry Potter Publisher Hands out Meaty Dividend After Bumper Profits
A child holds a copy of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," at Waterstone's bookshop in central London on June 21, 2003. (Sinead Lynch/Reuters)

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc on Wednesday reported a 40 percent jump in annual profit and raised its final dividend payout by about a quarter, buoyed by a reading boom which stayed even after the pandemic lockdowns.

The London-listed publisher, best known for picking up J.K. Rowling's Potter series in 1997 after its rejection by a dozen others, "achieved its highest ever results" as more and more people picked up the habit of reading.

Bloomsbury said trading for the 2023 fiscal year has started in line with the board's expectations, adding that it would invest robustly and look to make further acquisitions.

"The surge in reading, which seemed to be one of the only rays of light in the darkest days of the pandemic is perhaps now being revealed as permanent...," Chief Executive Officer Nigel Newton said in a statement.

Sales of American fantasy author Sarah J. Maas' titles grew 86 percent, while sales of academic publications benefited from the structural shift to online learning, the company said.

Profit rose to 26.7 million pounds ($32.07 million) for the year ended Feb. 28, while sales grew 24 percent to 230.1 million pounds. Sales were up 41 percent and profits up 70 percent on the two-year comparative period.

The firm also proposed a 24 percent increase in its final dividend to 9.40 pence per share.

By Aby Jose Koilparambil