November 26, 2012 / 7:31 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Aberdeen mum on buyback plans as cash reserves swell

4 Min Read

* Full year net revenues up 11 pct to 869.2 mln stg

* Aberdeen cash pile more than doubles

* Underlying pre-tax profits 347.8 mln stg, up 15 pct

* Full year dividend 11.5 pence per share

* Shares rise 0.35 percent

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Aberdeen Asset Management failed to impress investors with news of any immediate plans for buybacks or a special dividend after reporting its net cash reserves had more than doubled in the last twelve months.

The fund manager said an 11 percent rise in full-year revenues, driven by greater demand for its higher-margin funds, helped to more than double its net cash position to 266.4 million pounds ($426.5 million) from 127.5 million pounds a year earlier.

Reporting its full-year results to the end of September, Aberdeen said it will pay an 11.5 pence per share dividend for the year, up 28 percent on 2011, and that it is "committed to a progressive dividend policy".

"Once we've made the cash we'll decide what to do," Aberdeen's Chief Executive Martin Gilbert said on a call to reporters, adding that the firm's capital would see a further boost because holders of a convertible bond had decided to convert their holdings into shares.

However, some analysts were disappointed there was not more news on whether the firm will return more capital to shareholders through buybacks or special dividends.

Aberdeen will also "neutralise" the shares it pays to staff - typically 75 percent of their bonus - by buying them back in the market, but further decisions on what to do with its cash would have to wait until the middle of next year, Gilbert said.

Aberdeen has indicated regulators require it to hold a net cash balance of around 250 million pounds.

"With a net cash balance in excess of our expectation, we believe that the company could signal its willingness to enhance shareholder returns through the distribution of excess capital to shareholders," RBC analysts said in a note.

"We continue to believe that a special dividend and/or share buybacks are possible and likely in H2 FY13."

Shares in Aberdeen were up 0.35 percent at 1040 GMT, outperforming the 0.41 percent fall in the FTSE 100.

Rise in Revenues

Aberdeen said in the trading statement revenues reached 869.2 million pounds ($1.39 billion) for the year to end-September, up from 784 million pounds a year earlier.

Analysts at UBS had forecast revenues of 858 million pounds.

Underlying pre-tax profits came in at 347.8 million pounds, up 15 percent on the previous year.

Aberdeen credited much of the revenue rise to demand for its global emerging markets, Asia Pacific and global equity funds, as well as for its higher-margin emerging-market debt products, where assets under management have surpassed $10 billion.

This allowed it to offset subdued investor appetite for taking on more risk that has impacted some of its rivals more heavily focused on developed market products.

Assets under management at Aberdeen hit 187.2 billion pounds at end-September, up from 169.9 billion a year earlier, with new client money and strong investment performance in equities driving the rise.

However, the group saw net outflows in its fixed income business after redemptions from developed market strategy products.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen also saw more clients withdraw money than they added in its solutions business, which includes its fund of hedge funds unit, and its property funds.

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