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From: European Assets Trust NV
Date: 8 January 2019
· Total dividends net of Dutch withholding tax declared for 2019 will be Euro 0.0684 per share (2018: Euro 0.088*)
· Continued policy of 6 per cent dividend on year-end net asset value per share for annual distribution to shareholders.
· Dividend to be paid in four instalments in January, March, July and October.
· Subject to the completion of the proposed migration the dividends in July and October will be paid by European Assets Trust PLC.
The net asset value per share decreased over the year which will result in a decrease in total dividends, net of withholding tax, payable by the Company for 2019 to Euro 0.0684 per share (2018: Euro 0.088* per share, net of withholding tax).
The Board is pleased to confirm that the Company's stated distribution policy that the annual dividend will be equivalent to 6 per cent of the net asset value per share at the end of the preceding year will be continued.
The 2019 dividends will be paid in four instalments on 31 January, 15 March, 31 July and 31 October 2019. Subject to the completion of the proposed migration the dividends in July and October will be paid by European Assets Trust PLC.
The January gross dividend is increased to offset the element of Dutch withholding tax applicable.
Dividends are declared in Euros and paid in Sterling (registered shares) or in Euros (bearer shares). The Euro to Sterling exchange rate that will be applied will be selected for a date as close as practicably possible to each of the four payment dates. For illustrative purposes only, applying the exchange rate as at 31 December 2018 would result in the payment of total 2019 dividends, net of withholding tax, of £0.062 per share (2018: actual payment of £0.077* per share, net of withholding tax).
The gross January dividend payment of Euro 0.019665 (net: Euro 0.0171) will be paid to shareholders on the register on 18 January 2019, having an ex-dividend date of 17 January 2019.
Investment Performance and Review
The Company's net asset value total return (capital performance with dividends reinvested) per share was -15.4 per cent in Sterling (-16.3 per cent in Euros) for the year to 31 December 2018 (unaudited). This compares with the benchmark, the EMIX Smaller European Companies (ex UK) Index, which produced a total return of -12.7 per cent in Sterling (-13.6 per cent in Euros).
At this juncture last year, we sounded a note of caution over both the withdrawal of liquidity globally, with the support of central banks diminishing, and concern over some exuberant valuations. These issues have been augmented with fears over economic growth, trade wars, and political upheaval across the globe. Together they have dominated the second half of the year to deliver a reasonably co-ordinated decline in equity markets. The consequence is that the outlook is as uncertain now as at any point since the global financial crisis. However, we welcome at least some of this volatility in that we believe it will give us the opportunity to buy some good quality assets at attractive prices. Over the last few years the global liquidity glut has potentially created an abnormal market for risk assets, pushing some areas to excessive levels. As this liquidity diminishes we would expect a more normal market, and with this some good opportunities.
If we turn to the portfolio, the changes we made this year, which were principally in the first half, anticipated the challenges highlighted above. In aggregate we reduced our cyclical sensitivity and exposure to high financial leverage. While a sensible strategy, these changes were not enough to withstand the severity of some of the moves that we have seen and we underperformed the benchmark over the year. This under performance can almost be attributed entirely to a very poor April, when we significantly lagged a strong market led by sectors where we had little exposure. More recently, there has been weaker performance in our remaining cyclical holdings. At this stage we would argue that these stocks now look excessively cheap, discounting a somewhat more severe economic scenario than we would envisage. Additionally, when we look at the portfolio in totality we are comfortable with our exposure. In aggregate our companies are good businesses, with limited debt, and are attractively priced. This should stand us in good stead for the year to come.
*Adjusted for ten for one stock split effective 3 May 2018.
For further information contact:
Sam Cosh (Investment Manager) Tel +44 (0)207 628 8000
Scott McEllen (Company Secretary) Tel +44 (0)207 628 8000
Wilbert van Twuijver (Managing Director)
FCA Management BV, Rotterdam Tel +31 (0)10 201 36 25
This press release contains inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation.
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