Source - Alliance News

Fidelity European Trust PLC on Wednesday released upbeat annual results despite ‘reasons to be cautious’, and said Chair Vivian Bazalgette will step down next year.

The Tadworth, England-based investment trust said it delivered a net asset value total return of positive 17.5% in 2023, ‘comfortably beating’ the positive 15.7% return delivered by the benchmark FTSE World Europe ex UK Index. This also improved on its negative 3.6% return the previous year.

Fidelity European said its NAV per share at December 31 was 388.39 pence, up 15% from 337.87p at the end of 2022.

Shares in Fidelity European were marginally up at 383.61p on Wednesday morning in London.

The trust declared a final dividend of 4.99p per share, up 8.0% from 4.62p for 2022. This increased the total dividend by 7.1% to 8.25p from 7.70p per share.

Looking ahead, Chair Bazalgette said that while the dreaded global recession has so far not materialised, ‘it would be unwise to buy too fully into the idea that ’normalising’ interest and inflation rates will ensure a rosy picture in 2024’. He said ‘reasons to be cautious’ include the ongoing issues plaguing the Chinese economy and property sector, conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, and possible delays in interest rate cuts.

Regardless, he added, ‘your company performed well in 2023’ and the portfolio managers’ focus ‘continues to be on finding attractively valued companies with good prospects for cash generation and dividend growth over the longer-term, with positioning driven by opportunities at the individual stock level rather than macro developments’.

Fidelity European also announced that Bazalgette will step down following the 2025 annual general meeting, having served as chair for nine years as of December this year.

The process to identify his successor will commence in Autumn, led by Senior Independent Director Paul Yates.

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