Publisher Bloomsbury is pinning its hopes on a biography of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, as it posted a 38.5 per cent increase in profits for the first half.

Pre-tax profit reached £5.4 million for the first six months compared to £3.9 million in 2007, according to Bloomsbury.

The Harry Potter publisher said it had a strong list of titles for the second half, including Alice Schroeder's biography of Warren Buffet, The Snowball; Just Me by Sheila Hancock; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

Bloomsbury will also publish Jk Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard – a collection of short stories first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - on December 4th.

Gross profit fell compared to last year by 11 per cent following the final instalment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

However, strong sales of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns led to a good performance for the group's UK adult division.

Nigel Newton, chief executive, said: "As well as continuing to enjoy notable success from long-running bestselling titles such as The Kite Runner, we are also well positioned with strong publishing lists for the second half and beyond.

"We are now seeing the benefits of our focused strategy, which is positioning us well for the rest of the financial year and the longer term."

Bloomsbury increased its interim dividend by 7.1 per cent to 0.75p.

The publisher is confident in its outlook and said its cash position has been strong with £53.8 million of cash on deposit, enabling it to take advantage of opportunities for company and book acquisitions.

Current trading remains in line with our expectations, Bloomsbury said.

29/08/2008 10:57:58