ASB’s low dividends reflect battered stock market

By Chee Jo-Ey

PERMODALAN Nasional Bhd (PNB) recently declared that Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) had recorded its lowest dividend since 1999 amid a challenging market environment.

ASB announced a dividend of five sen per unit with a bonus of 0.5 sen, which is 1.5 sen less than a year ago.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said this will involve a total payout of RM9 bil to more than 10 million unit holders.

Although the recent dividend announcement may have left some depositors disappointed, the fact is global uncertainties have taken a serious toll on the local stock market.

Malaysia’s lacklustre economic growth and sluggish investment activities had hogged headlines for months now.

According to news reports, Zeti commented that the fund is doing quite well considering the volatile economy around the world.

The low yields have been attributed to volatile markets and uncertainties that have worsened since 2018.

She added that the FBM KLCI was down 7.2% over the year to Dec 16, making it one of the weakest performing indices in the world. This marked the fifth year out of six consecutive years that the market has posted negative returns. The FBM KLCI closed at 1,596.36 on Dec 19 versus 1,599.11 the previous day.

Manulife Investment Management (M) Bhd licensed financial planner Rajen Devadason agreed that market conditions have been challenging.

“Given the much lower dividends declared recently by Tabung Haji and Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) to compensate for the blatantly higher-than-warranted dividends paid in recent years during the last decade of Barisan Nasional’s rule, I applaud PNB for being courageous enough to bite the bullet and declare a true and fair dividend rate that reflects the awful market conditions we’ve suffered this year,” he tells FocusM.

Devadason, who is also the CEO of RD WealthCreation Sdn Bhd, encourages ASB contributors to learn more about financial planning and true risk-on investing to enjoy higher returns in the future.

He cautions Malaysians to not rely solely on the government and that “for far too long a huge portion of the Malaysian population has been lulled into a false sense of security that stemmed from a bogus belief that the government will feed them and protect them forever.”

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