The Board of Witan Pacific Investment Trust plc has today announced audited full year results for the period ended 31 January 2017. A summary of the results:
- Net Asset Value (NAV) total return of +30.7% (2016: -5.6%), but underperforming the benchmark¹ return of +35.3% (2016: -5.9%.
- A final dividend of 2.55 pence per share (2016: 2.50 pence) making the full-year dividend 4.75 pence per share (2016: 4.65 pence), a rise of 2.2% on 2016, and ahead of inflation during the year.
- The share price total return was +26.1% (2016: -3.5%), reflecting a widening of the discount during the year.
- Since 2005 and the adoption of its multi-manager approach, Witan Pacific has delivered an NAV total of +195.8% compared with the benchmark1 return of +183.1% over the same period.
Witan Pacific is the only investment trust to provide its shareholders with exposure to the wider Asia-Pacific region, including Japan. Since May 2005, the trust has employed an active multi-manager approach, in order to add value and diversify risk. The trust currently has three appointed portfolio managers – Matthews, Aberdeen, and Gavekal – which seek to outperform the regional index1 and to deliver capital return and income growth. Each manager employs a distinct approach, while they have in common fundamentally-driven investment policies, choosing holdings independent of index weightings.
Sarah Bates, Chairman of the Witan Pacific Investment Trust said:
“2016 was a startling year for investors and, in absolute terms, the assets of Witan Pacific rose significantly over the period as the absolute returns to shareholders were spectacular, at least in the short term.
“Few could have predicted the combination of the results of the Brexit referendum, Leicester City Football Club winning the Premiership and Trump winning the US election. Even with knowledge of these outcomes, translating the results reliably into market moves would have presented a further challenge and the Company’s NAV did less well than the benchmark over the year under review, which is disappointing in light of the strong relative performance of the portfolio managers over the first half of the year. The last six months of the year, however, were very turbulent with major sentiment driven by top down themes. This included some very dramatic moves in basic materials, oil and gas stocks and in financials in the last few months of the year, which have seemingly calmed down. This has resulted in a further rise in the NAV and recovering relative performance at the time of writing.
“As for our individual managers, it was pleasing to see Aberdeen performing better than the market as a whole, after some years of underperformance. Following several years of strong performance, Matthews had a more difficult year, largely as individual consumer- based stocks in China/Hong Kong suffered from fears of a trade war. Gavekal found the market turbulence difficult to navigate and their growth-oriented stocks seem to have been particularly affected. More detail on the performance of Witan Pacific’s individual portfolio managers is available in the Investment Review within the Annual Report.
“I’m pleased to report that over the longer term and since the inception of the Company’s multi-manager structure, Witan Pacific has performed ahead of its benchmark with an NAV total return of +195.8% versus +183.1% from the benchmark since 31st May 2005.
“In line with the Company’s aim to grow the dividend in real terms over the long term, Witan Pacific grew its dividend for the 12th consecutive year with a total dividend pay- out of 4.75 pence per share, a rise of 2.2% on the Company’s 2016 financial year, and ahead of inflation over the period.
“We continue to watch our discount very carefully. For most of the year, it traded more or less in line with many of the other Asian and Japanese investment trusts but slipped just at the end of the period. We subsequently increased the rate of our buybacks and have continued our marketing efforts, focused on private individuals, wealth managers and financial advisers with an interest in investment trusts. At the time of writing, the discount has narrowed from the year-end levels.
“Over the longer term, what will matter most is that our appointed portfolio managers are able to access the opportunities provided by the region, particularly when adverse sentiment provides a good entry point. The Board’s recent trip to the region and meetings with your managers and other investors supported our view of the long-term trends and more recent changes, which provide attractive opportunities. In the Board’s view, the breadth of access that Witan Pacific offers continues to provide a range of exciting investment opportunities. No doubt there will be turbulence along the way, but the strengths of the region persist.”
Current Chair, Sarah Bates, will stand down and hand over to Susan Platts-Martin at the Company’s AGM on 14th June 2017.
A video interview with James Hart, Investment Director of Witan Investment Services, discussing the 2017 full year results can be viewed on the Company’s website at www.witanpacific.com
¹ Witan Pacific’s benchmark is the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index (£) with gross dividends reinvested
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For further information please contact:
Witan Investment Services Limited
Tel: 020 7227 9770
Witan Investment Services Limited
Tel: 020 7227 9773
Notes to Editors
Witan Pacific Investment Trust plc
Witan Pacific Investment Trust is an Asia-Pacific including Japan Trust with assets of £227m (Source: Witan Pacific Factsheet 31.03.2017). The Trust moved to a multi-manager structure on 27 May 2005 with Witan Investment Services as Executive Manager. The Trust’s benchmark is the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index (£) with gross dividends reinvested.
Witan Investment Services Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Witan Investment Trust plc. Witan Pacific Investment Trust plc is registered as an Investment Company in England No 91798.
Multi-Manager Structure (as at 31.01.2017)
Aberdeen Asset Management 43.4%
Source: WM Company