On 23 June 2020 the Company announced a first quarter dividend in respect of the financial year to 31 March 2021 of 1.29 pence per Ordinary share. This dividend will be paid on 7 August 2020 to Ordinary shareholders on the register on 3 July 2020.
A first quarter capital repayment of 1.29 pence per B share will also be paid on 7 August 2020 to B shareholders on the register on 3 July 2020. Capital repayments on B shares are paid at the same time and in an amount equal to each dividend paid on an Ordinary share.
This represents an unchanged dividend / capital repayment from the first quarter of the prior financial year to 31 March 2020.
As was reported within the Company’s Annual Report to 31 March 2020; as a consequence of COVD-19 many companies (including a number of those held within the Company’s investment portfolio) have chosen to cancel, delay or significantly reduce the dividend payments they make to shareholders. Furthermore, there is an exceptionally low level of visibility as to when companies may be in a position to commence paying dividends once more and at what level they may choose to do so. This position will become clearer as the financial year progresses.
At 31 March 2020, the Company had a revenue reserve of approximately 5.7p per Ordinary share, equivalent to 109% of the total annual dividend of 5.21p per Ordinary share paid in respect of the year to 31 March 2020. It is probable that the Company’s dividend payments for the current financial year will not be covered by net revenue earned and this revenue reserve can and will be used to supplement revenue earnings in the current period.
The normal pattern for the Company is to pay four quarterly interim distributions per financial year.
At this stage and in the absence of unforeseen circumstances, the Company currently intends that the second and third quarter distributions will each be 1.29 pence per share and that the aggregate distribution for the financial year to 31 March 2021 will be at least 5.21 pence per share (Financial year to 31 March 2020: 5.21 pence per share).
Based on these intended distributions, the dividend yield on an Ordinary share was 6.6 per cent based on the Ordinary share price of 79 pence as at 23 July 2020, and the distribution yield on a B share was 6.4 per cent based on the B share price of 81 pence on the same date. These yields compare favourably with the yield on the FTSE All-Share Index of 4.6 per cent at the same date.