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Publisher Bloomsbury expects fantasy novels demand to lift annual earnings

FILE PHOTO: Books from the Harry Potter series by author J.K. Rowling are seen on a shelf inside Widnes Library in Widnes

(Reuters) -Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury Publishing forecast annual profit and revenue ahead of market expectations on Thursday, encouraged by readers picking up more fantasy fiction novels by authors such as Sarah J. Maas and J.K. Rowling.

Demand for several books including "Harry Potter Wizarding Almanac", the official companion to J.K. Rowling's books and children's' Christmas book "We're Going on a Sleigh Ride" has been on the rise in the recent months, the London-listed publisher said.

"I am delighted to report a strong period of trading which is principally driven by the continued phenomenal demand for fantasy fiction," CEO Nigel Newton said in a statement.

Analysts on average expect full-year profit before tax and highlighted items to be 32.9 million pounds ($41.3 million), with revenue of 274.2 million pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus.

The publisher, best known for picking up J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series in 1997 after its rejection by a dozen others, said its non-consumer division which includes digital academic resources, was trading in line with expectations.

($1 = 0.7961 pounds)

(Reporting by Prerna Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)