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Merchants Trust increases 2012 full year dividend by 0.9%

Investment Tools Ltd.
Merchants Trust increases 2012 full year dividend by 0.9%

Results

The investment portfolio produced a capital return of 14.8%, ahead of the 10.5% return on the FTSE 100 Index. Including income, the total return of the investment portfolio was 20.1% which was further ahead of the 14.8% total return on the FTSE 100 Index. The net asset value total per share rose by 16.0% to 466.5p. The net asset value total return per share, including dividends paid, was 21.8%.

The company has benefited from the "pull to par" as the company's debt has decreased in value and, using the market value of debt, the net asset value per share rose by 18.5% or by 24.9% including dividends. The full performance breakdown is shown on page 22 of the Annual Financial Report. Over the year, the company's share price rose by 13.7% from 363.0p to 412.7p. The total return on the company's shares including dividends was 20.1%. The fund has performed ahead of the FTSE 100 Index over the past three years. At 25 March 2013, the trust's ordinary shares yielded 5.4% compared with the yield on the FTSE 100 Index of 3.5%. There is more detail on the major contributors to our performance in our Investment Manager's Review starting on page 10 of the Annual Financial Report.

Net Revenue Return and Dividends

Net Revenue Return per share rose by 4.1% to 22.9p. The board is recommending a final ordinary dividend of 5.8p per share, payable on 15 May 2013 to shareholders on the register on 12 April 2013. This payment would give a total of 23.2p for the year, an increase of 0.9% over the total for the previous year. In order to meet the payment it has been necessary to transfer £313,802 (0.3p per share) from our revenue reserves, compared to a transfer of £1,026,885 (1.0p per share) last year. As at 31 January 2013 and after providing for this transfer and the dividend payment, the trust's revenue reserves amounted to £11,544,018 (11.2p per share).

The outlook for dividend growth is reasonable, with many companies having rebuilt their balance sheets and dividend cover since the economic downturn. The recent decline in the value of sterling, if sustained, should be beneficial to future income prospects. The board and the manager continue to remain focused on providing long term steady income growth.

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