Sales at Bloomsbury rose 4.5 percent in the first half of the year, to 36.8 million pounds, though pre-tax profit fell by a little more than half, at 949,000 pounds. Profits on the publishing side fell by 23 percent, mostly due to the inclusion of the new Bloomsbury Professional unit (based on their acquisition of law and tax publisher Tottel), “which is typically loss making in the first half of the year.”
Investment income on the mountain of residual Harry Potter cash declined much more sharply, down from 842,000 pounds to 180,000 pounds, reaffirming that the company is much better at publishing than running a mutual fund. With a cash balance of 33.5 million pounds, the pressure will continue to find appropriate acquisitions. Chief executive Nigel Newton told Dow Jones that, following the recent pattern, they are targeting acquisitions of specialist publishers, along the lines of the Tottel purchase.
Bloomsbury USA was one of the company’s best-performing units in the period, with sales up 2.3 percent at 8.9 million pounds and a rebound to profit contribution of 600,000 pounds after virtually no margin a year ago. Berlin Verlag was among the weakest performers, with sales falling 34 percent.
The company will launch Bloomsbury Australia in 2011, along with an Australian version of their successful Public Library Online subscription program, which debuted in the US this summer.