UPDATE 1-Bloomsbury raises profit view as book purchases soar during lockdowns

(Adds details from statement, estimates)

March 24 (Reuters) - Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury said on Wednesday profit for fiscal year 2020 will be significantly above market expectations as people bought more books during pandemic lockdowns.

“The popularity of reading during lockdown is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark last year,” Chief Executive Nigel Newton said, adding that February, the final month of its financial year, saw exceptional sales.

Shares jumped 12% to 291 pence by 0807 GMT in light volumes on the FTSE small-cap index.

London-based Bloomsbury said sales were strong in its consumer division, which includes Harry Potter, while its digital academic content has also seen increased demand for remote access to learning materials.

The publisher said its long term expectations remain unchanged and it did not know if consumer behaviour will change after academic institutions reopen and leisure activities ramp up.

Britain, which is currently under a third national lockdown, has published a roadmap to get the country gradually out of restrictions, with schools reopening in early March while universities are yet to welcome back students at full capacity.

Bloomsbury said it returned 63,000 pounds of furlough funding it received from the government and repaid temporary salary reductions for staff.

The company said full-year profit would be significantly ahead of market expectations, which was upgraded in January.

The current consensus estimates for revenue is 171 million pounds and profit before tax of 14.8 million pounds, the company said. Bloomsbury had reported revenue of 162.8 million pounds and profit before tax of 15.7 million pounds for 2019. (Reporting by Chris Peters & Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)