Advantage investment trusts: enhanced dividends reward income seekers
Where to find income? The question weighs heavy on the minds of investors. A year ago, we’d have been discussing how historically low interest rates had squeezed returns across the board, how low-risk income options were increasingly scarce, and how investors might want to start weighing up the risks of global equities.
Then came Covid-19. The pandemic triggered a period of volatility that has exposed reliance on many traditional income-providing asset classes and provided a stark reminder of the risks of chasing yield in the hunt for high dividend. It has certainly come to pass that many share dividends have been cut or cancelled. However, in this period of market stress, income seekers may find solace in the enhanced dividends paid by certain investment trusts.
Investment trusts can pay enhanced dividends by supplementing income from their underlying portfolios of assets, with capital gains realised from selling any of those assets that have appreciated.
Four of J.P. Morgan’s investment trusts pursue an enhanced dividends policy, offering an attractive combination of a predictable level of income – including income opportunities overseas, stock markets not previously associated with dividends – and cost-effective exposure to growth. These are: J.P. Morgan Asia Growth & Income (stock market ticker: JAGI), J.P. Morgan China Growth & Income (JCGI), J.P. Morgan Global Growth & Income (JPGI) and J.P.Morgan Japan Small Cap Growth & Income plc (JSGI).
Of course, while past performance is not a reliable indicator of current and future results, and dividend pay-outs can’t be guaranteed, the performance of these trusts may catch the eye of the income seeker.
The growth and income generalist
JPMorgan Global Growth & Income (JGGI) aims to deliver capital growth and a predictable income from world stock markets by holding a diversified portfolio of investments in which the portfolio manager has a high degree of conviction. It has traded consistently at a premium for the last three years, even issuing shares in March this year as the pandemic hit the markets – and every month this year, despite the global headwinds. Top holdings currently include tech giants Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon. At the time of writing, this trust’s shares are priced 3.1% higher than their NAV and an enhanced dividend policy delivers a yield of 3.5%1.
The top performing trust in Asia Pacific income
JPMorgan’s Asia Growth & Income (JAGI) aims to provide capital growth, primarily from investing in shares listed in China, Korea, Taiwan and India. It is the top-performing investment trust in the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) Asia Pacific Income sector over the last one, five and 10 years. Its shares are priced 1.1% above its net asset value (NAV) and its enhanced dividend policy has enabled it to offer a dividend yield of 3.5%.2
The top performing country specialist: Asia ex-Japan
JPMorgan China Growth & Income (JCGI) is another top performer, and the leading investment trust in the AIC Country Specialist – Asia ex-Japan sector over the last year and five-year periods. This trust aims to provide long-term capital growth through investment in companies listed in Greater China – that is, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The shares are currently priced 1.3% higher than their NAV and the trust’s enhanced dividend policy enables a 3.7% yield3.
Income from next-generation Japan
While income takes a back seat to growth for J.P.Morgan Japan Small Cap Growth & Income plc (JSGI), the trust has performed well in the AIC Japanese Smaller Companies sector over the last year. JSGI aims to achieve long-term capital growth through investment in small and medium-sized Japanese companies, excluding the largest 200 measured by market capitalisation. Shares are currently priced at 2.9% below NAV; an enhanced dividend policy enables this trust to yield 3.6%4.
Income today, growth tomorrow
Enhanced dividend policies can potentially enable investment trusts to meet many investors’ needs for short-term income while balancing this with the potential for future growth. However, it is important to understand that enhanced dividends are not a panacea. There is a risk that the price of higher income today might be lower total returns tomorrow. This is why investment trusts’ independent boards of directors regularly review whether enhanced dividend policies remain in the best interests of all shareholders.
Past performance is not a reliable indicator of current and future results.
Source: All share prices and performance figures sourced from Morningstar via the Association of Investment Companies as at Nov 12, 2020.