Alliance Trust (LSE: ATST) -- one of the largest general UK investment trusts, with assets of £2.4bn and significant holdings around the world in companies such as Pfizer, Samsung, Royal Dutch Shell and Diageo -- published its final results for the full year to 31 December 2012 this morning.
The company reported a strong performance, with a total return on net asset value of 12.1%. It also stated it had significantly restructured its portfolio during 2012, with four regional portfolios being consolidated in into one global portfolio, and the number of shareholdings being reduced to around 100.
The company has an enviable record of raising its dividend, and announced that it intends to continue this for a remarkable 46th consecutive year by increasing the full-year dividend for 2012 by 7%, to 9.63p per share. This will be made up of a 9.27p per share ordinary dividend, and a special dividend of 0.36p per share.
It also commented that it's had the best start to a year for more than 20 years, with the share price up 16% already in 2013, compared with a 10% rise in the FTSE All-Share index. The company said that it continues to believe that equities remain good value relative to other asset classes, and that while it doesn't expect the current the rally to maintain its current pace over the course of this year, it remains confident that it's well placed to deliver above average returns.
Alliance Trust's chief executive, Katherine Garrett-Cox, commented:
"Alliance Trust has undergone significant change over the last year and I am pleased that the actions which we have taken across the business have resulted in the good results that we are announcing today. Investment performance continues to improve and the equity portfolio generated double digit returns last year. This performance has enabled us to increase the ordinary dividend and also to pay a special dividend, making an overall increase of 7%, paid out of current year earnings.
As we look towards the future, it's clear that the issues that have dogged the markets and the economic data over the last three to four years have not gone away; European governments have not fully resolved the Eurozone issue, nor has the US properly addressed the debt ceiling. However, we invest in companies, not markets, and valuations for many companies remain compelling. There are investment opportunities for those with longer time horizons and I believe that Alliance Trust is now better placed than ever to capitalise on these opportunities in 2013 and beyond."
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