44th year of dividend increases by F&C fund

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Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust, a listed UK  investment company launched in 1868 as the first of its kind, has confirmed it will increase its dividend for the 44th year in a row.

The 2014 dividend is up 3.3% on the previous year, representing three quarterly dividend payments of 2.2p per share each and a final dividend of 2.7p per share. The final dividend will be paid on 1 May, taking the total dividend to 9.3p per share.

The Trust said it was helped over the past year by cashflow from its private equity realisations along with lower interest payments after it finished paying off a 25 year debenture.

which has recently seen a significant narrowing of its discount, confirmed it has increased its dividend for the forty-fourth consecutive year.  Recognising the importance of a rising income stream for its investors, the Company also plans another increase ahead of inflation for 2015.

Over the year, NAV total return was 10.3%, for a total shareholder return of 13.5%. Its benchmark FTSE All World index returned 11.3% over the same period. Reflecting the performance, the discount, or gap between its share price and the NAV per share fell to 8.1%, “the lowest year end close for 20 years”.

The company’s portfolio has continued to move away from UK holdings, and some £340m of UK assets were sold in the past year with the money reinvested in global equities. The portfolio has exposure to some 500 companies globally.

Paul Niven, fund manager said: “Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust saw further evolution in the past year, as we took steps to take advantage of a broad range of investment opportunities for the benefit of our shareholders. We are now truly global in terms of our investments and have a fully diversified set of investment strategies that we expect will deliver strong performance through time.”

Trust chairman Simon Fraser added: “Equities remain attractively priced relative to other financial assets. For investors, however, the fragile underlying environment and finely balanced risks makes a conservatively managed growth portfolio, which is globally focused, an attractive prospect. Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust is now more global than ever and, with lower borrowing costs, high cash realisations from our private equity portfolio and a diversified set of individual portfolio strategies we believe that we are well placed to weather any near term volatility in equity markets. We expect that the investment approach will continue to evolve under Paul’s stewardship and look forward to continuing our record of delivering strong shareholder returns.”

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