Abrdn’s Murray International Trust marks 19 years of dividend growth

Abrdn's Murray International Trust marks 19 years of dividend growth

Bruce Stout

The board of Murray International Trust has announced its annual results for the fiscal year ending 31 December 2023.

The company’s net asset value (NAV) demonstrated a total return of +8.6%, surpassing the UK Retail Prices inflation rate of +5.2%. This marked a return to genuine growth over the reporting period, while the share price total return stood at +1.1%.

Revenue earnings per share reached 12.1p, a marginal increase from the previous year. An increased final dividend of 4.3p per share has been recommended, resulting in a full-year dividend of 11.5p and signalling the 19th consecutive year of dividend increases for the company. If approved at the AGM, this final dividend will be paid on 20 May 2024.

In terms of geographical performance, Latin America emerged as a significant contributor, delivering the strongest regional index returns for the second consecutive year. European assets recorded an impressive +22% total return, led by robust earnings and dividend growth from key holdings.

Reflecting on dividend predictions, Bruce Stout, co-manager of Murray International, noted: “Predicting dividend income over the financial year proved relatively straightforward notwithstanding the usual difficulties associated with accurately estimating dividends from cyclical businesses involved in energy, commodities and technology.

“Whilst positive cash flows on which dividends depend are arithmetically uncomplicated to identify, the ;willingness to pay’ remains very much in the hands of the pursekeeper.

“Thankfully the majority of holdings did not disappoint. Dividend increases from portfolio holdings generally matched conservative estimates, with 80% falling into this category.

“Over the period the net effect from positive surprises (Oversea-Chinese Bank Corp, Grupo Asur, Tryg Insurance) versus negative surprises (BE Semiconductor, Sociedad Quimica Y Minera) was negligible.

“Overall gross income accrued marginally increased year-on-year, with earnings per share growth of +1.7% reflecting fewer shares outstanding than the previous period.”

Looking ahead, Virginia Holmes, chair of Murray International, outlined the company’s outlook, rooted in tangible corporate fundamentals. The focus remains on identifying key drivers of businesses, emphasising positive cash flows, robust earnings, growing dividends, and strong balance sheets.

In conclusion, co-manager Martin Connaghan highlighted the company’s continued commitment to a diversified investment strategy. The emphasis remains on owning both growth and cyclical stocks, with a keen eye on potential positive cyclical momentum upside surprises in Asia and other regions with substantial infrastructure spending and pent-up consumer demand.

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