Fifty Shades of Grey novels give newsagent WH Smith a boost

Kasmira Jefford
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WH SMITH yesterday said the huge success of the Fifty Shares of Grey trilogy and other so-called passion fiction novels helped boost trading across its 600 high street stores.

In a brief trading update, the books and stationary firm said its high street arm had performed well thanks “to the recent positive publishing schedule” that included EL James’ erotic bestseller.

Shares soared in early morning trading before closing up 2.7 per cent after the company said full-year profits would be at the top end of analyst expectations.

Profit forecasts previously stood at £97-£101m and are now expected to come in at the top end of that range.

Its share price was also buoyed by the announcement of a further £50m share buyback programme in 2012 to 2013 after recently spending the same amount.

WH Smith’s Travel arm, which includes stores at airports, train stations, and motorway service stations, also continued to trade well “despite the current economic climate” and plans to open 35 UK stores this year remain on track, the group said.

Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson said: “Strong cash generation and an attractive yield underpin the shares, although our enthusiasm is tempered by the potential impact of technology.”

Shares closed up at 597.50p.