Harry Potter can do many things for a young wizard. He can cast spells. He can vanquish villains. He can play a bloody good game of quidditch, too. All this, yet he couldn't get creator J.K. Rowling to scribe fast enough to save Scholastic
The stateside publisher of all things Potter has delayed the fifth book in the series until three weeks after the company's fiscal 2003 year closes in May. And, unfortunately, the company's other business lines, Trade and School Book Clubs, haven't been as steady as the educational market suggests.
In short, things are getting hairy without Harry. Scholastic now reports its fiscal third quarter will be as red as the hair on Ron Weasley's head. While the company projects breakeven results, back out a one-time asset sale gain and Scholastic will post a loss. The fourth quarter isn't looking much better, with the unsure economy forcing schools to scale back on book spending.
This leaves Scholastic with little choice but to hose down its fiscal-year projections. Analysts were expecting roughly $2.50 a share. The company now warns it will produce profits between $1.85 and $2.15 per share.
The stock has been under fire, shedding 40% of its value over the past year. It's trading at levels unseen in three years. Back then, the Potter pot was just beginning to simmer, and the company was shaking off the demons left behind by the rise and faddish fade of its previous hit series, Goosebumps.
But the buzz is definitely building for the next Potter book. It's the top seller on Amazon.com
Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix will answer many questions, as Dumbledore reveals everything to Harry. Kids and adults alike will devour the epic, all 255,000 words. The one question Dumbledore won't be able to answer, though, is what will become of Scholastic? Will Harry save the day in fiscal 2004, or is this a set of ashes from which no phoenix will rise?