‘Clear focus’ for Alliance Trust after traumatic year

Alliance Trust chairman Robert Smith

Dundee-based investment firm Alliance Trust on Friday announced its 2016 results, saying its share price rose 23% over the year, total shareholder return rose from 10.7% to 26.4%, and total ordinary dividend rose 16.4% to 12.774p.

Nonetheless, Alliance Trust’s equity portfolio finished the year 6.5% behind its benchmark index, the MSCI ACWI.

Discount to net asset value (NAV) at December 31, 2016, was 4.4%, a big improvement on the 8.1% one year earlier.

Alliance Trust shares edged up to around 685p to give the firm a current stock market value of around £2.5 billion.

“Alliance Trust has increased the ordinary dividend in each of the last 50 years and is one of only four companies in the FTSE All-Share index with such a track record,” said Alliance Trust.

“The board’s current policy is to pay a progressive dividend and under normal market conditions to pay all net income received as ordinary dividends.”

Last month, Alliance Trust shareholders approved its radical plans to outsource its equity portfolio management and buy back the 19.75% stake — worth more than £600 million — of its biggest shareholder, US activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors.

Alliance Trust chairman Robert Smith said: “The last two years have seen considerable change for Alliance Trust and we are very appreciative of the strength of support shareholders have shown.

“With a clear course of direction and a settled shareholder register, we believe that Alliance Trust is now well placed for the future.

“The clear focus of the board and Willis Towers Watson (WTW), the new investment manager, is to generate a real return for shareholders through a combination of capital growth and rising dividends.”