Perpetual plays dividend card

The costs are dropping and the earnings lifting. But funds under management continues to swing.

After years of disappointments, Perpetual has attempted to lift the spirits of its backers by throwing off a much sweeter than expected dividend.

The funds manager’s results, released this morning, show the operation still has a long journey ahead before it can reclaim its former position and salvage its reputation.

The final dividend, at 80c, was significantly above expectations and should help to salve concerns that earnings were not spectacular.

Net earnings increased 128% to $61 million, struck on an underlying lift of 16% to $75.9 million.

Perpetual is in the midst of a restructure that has significantly reduced costs and is about half way towards its goal of stripping out $50 million in expenses by 2015.

But it remains subject to volatile swings in funds under management.

Funds under management fell 2.7% in the June quarter to $2.35 billion as the domestic stockmarket dropped.

Perpetual is overwhelmingly geared to Australian equities with 74% of funds allocated, 17% in cash and only 4% in global equities.

For the full year, however, funds lifted to just under 12%, driven largely by a market that jumped 20.6%.

It is determined to pursue Trust Co, which is now subject to a rival offer by Equity Trustee, but Perpetual believes the purchase will be earnings positive.