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CI Financial boosts dividend by 6 per cent

CI Financial Corp. president Stephen MacPhail


CI Financial Corp. hiked its dividend Thursday after the wealth management company posted an 8 per cent increase in fourth-quarter profit.

The Toronto-based company will raise its monthly dividend by 6 per cent to 8.5 cents per share starting March, for an annual payout of $1.02.

"While this was broadly expected, it should be well regarded by the market," Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said in note to clients. "CI enjoyed positive net sales in the fourth quarter, while its competitors continue to face net redemptions."

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CI Financial's chief executive officer Stephen MacPhail said in a statement that the company ended 2012 with strong sales growth from both retail and institutitonal funds.

"The trend has continued in 2013 with our net sales for the month of January reaching the highest level since 2001," Mr. MacPhail said. "This growth has been accompanied by increased interest in our equity funds."

CI, which reports its sales quarterly, saw net inflows jump to $724-million for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared to net redemptions of $360-million a year ago.

"While markets in 2012 faced challenges, including lingering concerns over the European debt crisis, the slowing Chinese economy and the U.S. 'fiscal cliff' [concerns about tax increases and spending cuts], the volatililty eventually subsided and investors have responded," CI said in a report to shareholders.

Profit for the latest quarter rose to $95-million, or 34 cents a share, from $87.8-million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier. Total revenue rose to $371.3-million from $356.7-million. Assets under management grew to $75.7-billion by Dec. 31 from $$69.6-billion a year earlier.

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