BMO Global Smaller Companies has announced its dividend will increase by 3% in its annual results, its 50th consecutive year of dividend increases.
Net asset value with debt at market value produced a marginally benchmark-beating loss of -13.8% to the end of April compared to -14.1%, while its share price fell 16.5% to end the year at 111p and a discount to NAV of 7.3%.
Chair Anthony Townsend pointed to an increased number of shares being sold over the period leading to the discount to NAV, but also highlighted 14.9 million shares bought back over the year, along with 4.6 million bought since the beginning of the of the new financial year.
"The aim is to get the discount back below 5% in normal market conditions, accepting that when the markets are especially volatile, as was the case in March this year, it may be appropriate to put buyback on temporary hold."
While the company's revenue return per share was 1.73p, down by 2.3%, Townsend warned of "significantly lower" revenue return per share in the next financial year.
The US-China trade war combined with a slowing economy before the arrival of the coronavirus led to a tough year in the region, change of leadership, general election and Brexit presented a volatile year for the UK too, according to Townsend.
While European political tensions flared up across the year, European small caps "held up better" than their UK peers over the year, particularly in the last quarter.
Key Asian markets outperformed the West, with Chinese stocks particularly performing well following the trade deal, and a greater reduction in virus case numbers than Europe allowed for a more significant reopening of the economy.
Technology and healthcare stocks performed strongly on a sector basis, while collapsing demand for oil led both energy and industrials to "struggle".
Exposure to Europe (12.6%), Rest of World (11.6%) and Japan (10.1%) all increased year on year, while North America (40.1%) and UK (25.6%) reduced, leaving investors overweigh in all regions except the UK, which Townsend described as the "right decision" given the lag of the region.