Murray Income Trust PLC posts Net Asset Value Total Return of 20.6%

Murray Income Trust PLC, a fund managed by Aberdeen Standard Investments, has posted a Net Asset Value Total Return of 20.6% for the year to 30 June 2021.

Murray Income Trust PLC posts Net Asset Value Total Return of 20.6%

Charles Luke and Iain Pyle

This is slightly behind the FTSE All-Share Index Total Return of 21.4%.

The company, which looks to achieve a high and growing income combined with capital growth through investment in a portfolio principally of UK equities, has achieved its objectives in the past year: a 4.0% dividend yield on the year-end share price, the 48th consecutive year of dividend growth and an 18.5% increase in the share price over the year.

In its results, the company highlighted the successful merger with Perpetual Income and Growth Investment Trust plc completed in November 2020.

It also announced that total dividends per share increased by 0.7% to 34.50p, the 48th year of consecutive increase and 98% covered by revenue earned.

The company revealed a dividend yield of 4.0%, based on the year end share price of 871.0p.

From 30 June 2021 to 16 September 2021, (being the latest practicable date prior to approval of the Annual Report), the NAV per share and share price returned 5.0% and 5.5%, respectively, outperforming the FTSE All-Share Index which returned 2.0%, all figures on a total return basis.

Charles Luke and Iain Pyle, Murray Income Trust investment managers, said: “Given the portfolio’s focus on high quality companies, we would always expect to underperform in a ‘dash to trash’ rally. Indeed, in November following news of the efficaciousness of a number of vaccines, poor quality companies that had previously performed very poorly and where the market had questioned their ability to survive, rebounded strongly (albeit their income has not returned to previous levels).

“As this scenario can only occur once, it is perhaps more insightful to judge performance relative to the benchmark through a longer term lens. We feel very comfortable maintaining our investments in high quality companies capable of growing their earnings and hence their dividends over the long term.”

“Our aspiration in terms of portfolio construction is simple: to invest in good quality companies with attractive growth prospects through a sensibly diversified portfolio with appealing dividend characteristics. The ability to invest up to 20% of gross assets overseas is helpful in achieving these aims and, at the year end, the portfolio comprised 60 holdings with the overseas exposure representing 11.1% of gross assets.”

Neil Rogan, chairman, Murray Income Trust, added: “A year ago we were wondering whether Sweden or New Zealand were the models to follow for Covid recovery. Hardly anyone thought that the UK’s vaccination policy would be the model to follow.

“While there is still a lot that could go wrong, it does now appear that the UK economy is recovering much faster than expected. Many UK companies have adapted successfully and some sectors have already surpassed their 2019 highs. Yet UK stock market valuations still seem low by international and historical standards, particularly on a cash flow and yield basis.

“International investors were particularly nervous about Brexit too, with UK weightings in global portfolios at very low levels. The Brexit effect is hard to see in the aggregate economic and corporate numbers that have been so much distorted by Covid but there does not seem to have been the expected big negative. We have argued that quality companies should be able to adapt successfully and many seem to be doing so: if you only looked at the corporate and economic numbers it would be quite easy to make a bullish case. It’s listening to the news that seems to make everyone worry.”

He concluded: “The new negative that is starting to show is inflation. There is a big debate whether the effects will be transitory or more serious and in truth it is too soon to tell. Many companies are reporting labour shortages and having to raise wages to retain or attract staff. In moderation this is good news for real wage growth and its effect on consumer spending (also for reducing inequality) but negative for the companies if they cannot offset the extra costs. Only when inflation becomes too high or too embedded does it become a problem and that is not happening yet.

“The Company’s portfolio comprises quality companies with reliable and growing cash flows that seem attractively valued. They have strong ESG credentials and a record of adapting successfully to change. They operate either in the UK economy that is a leader in the global recovery or in the rest of the world that will catch up fast. If you only looked at the corporate and economic numbers it would be quite easy to make a bullish case. It’s listening to the news that seems to make everyone worry.”

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